The Mend

The Mend

The MendThe mend.  A correction of the fly line as it is impacted by different currents in the stream.  I am not the greatest at this, yet it is vital to obtaining the perfect drift…and the reason for my blog name.  Underneath the surface of any given trout stream is a flurry of activity.  Trout and other aquatic creatures move and dance with a current that is constant yet ever changing.

The need for the mend in your drift is to keep the fly line from presenting the fly in a way that does not look natural.  For success in most cases, the drift is the single most important and often overlooked portion of a cast.  Get it right and success is at hand, botch it and your fly either skitters across the surface like a water skier or jumps over every fish in the stream.

Each stream in any particular area has multiple hydrological issues that the fly line is moved, bellied, bowed, or in some cases, sank completely.  It is the Zen of the angler to detect these things and move in accordance to what the water dictates.  This is a part of our craft that never changes.  We are always in hot pursuit of the perfect drift.

Life is much like this.  As our life moves downstream, we are often impacted by currents that are not under our control.  Frustration comes easily when we do not read the current of our days leading to an unsuccessful attempt or missing the mark.  Often we dream of victory that seems to be right under the surface, but we go dancing unnaturally across the surface leaving these amazing life events behind.

I am often very opinionated, most likely a habitual offender of faithless living, and assuredly a man who allows his pride to block obvious blessing.  All of these occur because I have lost the drift.  I have not allowed myself to relax, see the flow, and make adjustments as needed.  But thankfully I now recognize the correlation and have reached the point where the light bulb is flickering.

John Buchan is quoted as saying, “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”  Much like the rest of our lives isn’t it?  The big hurdle comes when we are faced with actually making life application out of our sport.

You may not agree…and I am fine with that, but I firmly believe that every area of our lives is intertwined to the point that one part will teach us something about another.  That there actually are life lessons that can be learned in everything from a person we work with, watching a football game, or standing in a river waving a stick.  It is all about how we choose to perceive small snippets of our lives.

So, in light of what I know to be my own shortcomings, and the desire to reach that unattainable thing we call perfection, I will try to learn from the river; that babbling cacophony of change and potential.  I will seek to apply elsewhere that which I have gleaned from time spent watching a floating line being moved by a current that was moving before I was born, and which will be moving long after I have gone.  Maybe, just maybe, I will have learned enough to get a few other things right.  I can’t ask for much more than that.

The Bighorn River

Better than Cutting Holes in Ice – New Year’s Trout!

 

After some skiing at Red Lodge, Montana over the holidays, we stopped in at the Bighorn River, which is not too far south of Billings.  A couple years ago, we heard rumors of great Christmas fishing and wanted to check it out.  It was January 2, the sun was shining, and the air temperature was about 39 degrees – almost tropical!  I was bundled up but it really did feel like a warm spring day.  (Perhaps because I’m from Manitoba?)

The Bighorn River is a “bottom-draw” tailwater that never freezes up. We walked and waded and drifted tiny nymphs and split shot through a lot of promising water. Although we didn’t get anything, it just felt great to be fishing. Around 4 PM  the light was getting low. I noticed some good-sized wakes moving up through a very skinny riffle in a side channel. I switched to an unweighted egg pattern, about a foot below a small indicator, and cast just upstream of the riffle. The water was maybe 8 inches deep…  Fish on!

Hello, brown trout! As darkness fell and the temperature dropped, I was on my knees, about 25 feet from the wakes pushing through the riffle. After every second cast, I dipped my rod in the water to unthaw the guides. A bad case of “rising fish” jitters made sure that my line got tangled way too often.  Nevertheless, two more browns honored me.  The last fish had to be stripped in ’cause my reel was completely frozen.  But I was feeling completely toasty.

The next day, before leaving, we could see the redds in the gravel above the riffle. The fish were spawning but aggressive. The Bighorn is about 1200 km away from my home.  Cost of gas: $250. Sight-fishing in open water on Jan. 2: priceless….

(The Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, located right by the river and also in Billings, was a great source of info.)

 

Fishwest Author Secures A Book Deal

The AuthorJust a quick note to say congratulations to Marc Payne.  He just secured his first book contract.  It will be a comprehensive look at fishing in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The book is slated for release in 2014.

Marc credits Fishwest as his first “writing gig” and we couldn’t be happier for him and his achievement.

Congrats again to Marc and we are looking forward to seeing the new book!

See all of his Fishwest articles here.  You can also visit Marc’s blog, The Perfect Drift

lean

Little Things Make All The Difference

lean

 I recently returned from my second saltwater trip and let me start off by saying my second saltwater experience greatly outweighed my first. The folks at Deneki Andros South made this trip amazing in every aspect. Honestly it would be tough to accurately describe how great the fishing is, especially in words. It is something that everyone should experience for themselves. The guides at Andros South were awesome in every way. They are true masters of their craft and will put you in prime locations for countless shots at fish. However the biggest factor in my success came down to one simple piece of equipment.  That piece of equipment is not the latest fly rod or fly reel or anything remotely close to that. A flats skiff outfitted with a lean bar made all the difference for me.

The premise of the lean bar is quite simple and self explanatory.  A Lean bar is affixed to the front of the flats boat on the casting platform and it gives anglers added support and stability. For me, an angler who has cerebral palsy where balance is an issue anyway, the lean bar setup is the perfect amount of support and it enables me to fish effectively without the hindrance of being able to balance.

Lean Bar In Use

The lean bar is not only designed to help people like me that have balance issues but also for anglers who may be a little older and their balance may not be as good as it once was. Also I could imagine that it would be perfect for anyone who needs a little bit of extra help balancing on the front of the boat.  Lastly I think everyone should use one on days where the conditions are not the greatest.  It would provide the angler an edge to the windy and choppy water conditions.

This lean bar setup is amazing however it is not without its faults. I found two situations while fishing that the bar was a hindrance to getting a good hookup.  The first thing I found is that the lean bar can be detrimental if I had a lot of outgoing line at a quick rate because periodically the line would get caught around the bar and the shot would be blown or even worse the fish would be lost. Also the strip set became a knuckle buster of sorts at times because I found that I would sometimes bang my hands into the bar on the set. This was more annoying than anything but the fish made it all worth it.

In conclusion if you are considering doing a saltwater trip and feel like the lean bar is something that you might want to consider don’t hesitate to ask your potential guide if they have a setup like this one. It truly does make all the difference in my book.

Winter Blues

Winter Fly Fishing – Observations From This Year

Winter Blues

A recent trick to winter flyfishing depends simply upon the weather. For instance, last winter there was hardly any snow—so little, in fact, that I’ve never seen a winter that dry in the central Rockies in my lifetime. I’d call it a drought. This year’s winter started with parallel results, but finally it began to snow, albeit a couple months later than usual. But once it got going, it snowed every few days—through December & January. By the middle of January, it seemed like the foremost trick to winter flyfishing was simply finding some open, un-frozen water to fish. We did have a dry spell at the end of January through mid-February, but the idea still amounted to finding fishable water.

Does fly selection make a difference? Maybe…research in recent years points out that black, blue, and fluorescents are the most visible colors in deep water; many winter anglers will testify to the effectiveness of patterns in these colors. Biologists do not exactly understand what trout see, but what I find truly interesting is that trout not only see color—they can identify some colors that are beyond human visualization. In particular, trout can sense shades of red and ultra violet that we cannot, and in lower light conditions. I used to think that blue was a nonsensical fly color, since I have not seen blue insects on the streams I fish, other than adult dragonflies/damselflies. However, scientists report that the fish’s capability to distinguish minute pigmentation differences is greatest within the blues.

A lot of experts say that trout seek deep water and become less active in the winter, which may explain (at least in part) why highly visible flies are effective. However, Levi, a buddy of mine who has been ice fishing for years says trout can actually feed aggressively; you just have to hit it at the right time. He also says Pam cooking spray helps de-ice rod guides, and advises to prepare for extreme weather. Cold winter weather might seem like common sense, but as I said—he’s been doing it for years, and hypothermia is a very real danger.

Winter flyfishing can be a great way to discover secrets about your favorite trout stream, and offers a change of pace from the tying bench. Flies tied in outlandish, unnatural colors might be the ticket to get strikes, and may shift your thinking about the appearance of your favorite patterns. Who knows, maybe someday research will show that fishing blue flies will reduce cabin fever!

Fishpond Slippery Rock Wading Staff

Product Review: fishpond Slippery Rock Wading Staff

Fishpond Slippery Rock Wading StaffAs winter continues I found it would be appropriate to talk about one of my most underappreciated pieces of equipment. Take it from someone who knows: having a good reliable wading staff can be the difference between enjoying a day of winter fishing or packing it in early because you took an unfortunate spill. I have had one too many a winter fishing day ended early with a nice brisk swim In Utah area waters.

I have tried all different types of wading staffs throughout my years as a fly fisherman. If you were to name the staff chances are I have used it. Crossing streams and rivers is not easy for me and it definitely isn’t the prettiest sight however, it has gotten easier with the addition of the Fishpond Slippery Rock Wading Staff.

Fishpond aka Komperdell (A brand synonymous with quality ski & trekking poles) have hit a home run with this staff. The biggest reason I choose this staff over any others out there has to be the patented “Easy Lock” system that is utilized to determine the length of the staff.

The staff has a base length of 29 inches which equates to roughly 74 centimeters. From there the bottom can be unscrewed to lengthen the wading staff. Once the proper height is reached the staff can be twisted into to the lock position. The locking mechanism on this staff is quite substantial and definitely gives me the ability to wade confidently.

Overall this staff has been a great addition to my equipment. From the telescopic “Easy Lock” system to the oversized grip are just a few things that help make this the perfect staff for this unsteady angler. Take the “plunge” (No pun intended) and give this staff a try. You won’t regret it.

Pros:

  •  Lightweight Telescopic Design – Ranges from 29in (74cm)- 57in (145cm)
  • Durable & Lightweight 3 piece aluminum construction
  • Oversized synthetic cork knob that unscrews to reveal a camera mount
  • Removable Rubber tip to reveal carbide steel tip

Cons:

  •  Just discovered today that the staff has a camera mount ( would have liked to know this earlier)
  • Removable Rubber Tip could be easily lost

 

 

paclite_gore-tex_vest

Product Review: Simms Paclite Jacket & Pants

This is a re-post from a great French blog: Peche Mouch Check it out. Please understand that the translation from French to English may be a little rough. Enjoy.

Spring arrives with showers and the opening of the fishing season. This is the time to think about clothes that protect us from freezing rain.

paclite_gore-tex_pant_minpaclite_gore-tex_vest_min

After over a year of use in extreme conditions and a little different, I propose a set jacket pants brand SIMMS you will face the elements with the greatest sérinité.

GORE-TEX ® Paclite ® JACKET $ 229.95 (€ 174)

Link seller, click on the image:

The manufacturer’s specifications:
  • 3-layer GORE-TEX ® Paclite ® Shell fabric for lightweight waterproof protection
  • Extreme provides protection in wet weather
  • With corrosion resistant YKK ® zippers in nylon
  • 100% Delrin ® zipper along the entire length making it ideal for sea fishing
  • Adjustable hood stows easily in the neck
  • Skinny that promotes overall better weather protection
  • Large chest pocket that has the passage system for an audio cable for breaks in music

In practice:

A very solid jacket fabric Gore-Tex ®. After long hours in the “bush” Lapland in July or in the woods to hunt fish in the heavy rain, the jacket does not move a bit. A super light weight which makes almost forget when the door or when you put it in the top of the backpack.

The sleeves ressèrent using scratch and the bottom of the jacket is constricted with a bungee cord. I wish neoprene parts are not inserted at the end of sleeves lorque is dipped in water arms. Nevertheless, it would be less solid jacket.

Warning: this jacket is protection against wind and rain, but no protection against the cold.It will therefore supplement it with one or two layers thermal type “SoftShell” and fitting merino wool. Avoid fleeces that load water at the slightest touch.

Now that I’m with, it makes it an ideal fishing vest and even in airplanes when traveling.

To find it, see end of article.

GORE-TEX ® Paclite ® Pant $ 199.95 (€ 151)

Link seller, click on the image:

The same GORE-TEX ® Paclite and the same fabric as the jacket. The rain pants offer the perfect complement for total waterproof protection.

The manufacturer’s specifications:

  • 3-layer GORE-TEX ® Paclite ® Shell fabric for lightweight waterproof protection
  • Extreme provides protection in wet weather
  • With articulated leg design for easy movement and make it more comfortable and have a better fit
  • 100% Delrin ® zipper along the entire length making it ideal for sea fishing
  • YKK ® front zipper closure with waterproof zip
  • Zip pockets and back pockets
  • Adjustable elastic waist, belt loops and elastic ankles

In practice:

Pants very useful for times outside the waders with incessant rain or fishing without waders.Very useful for the beginning of the season when it rains and you can not put toes in the water to protect spawning shadows.

The same strength characteristics as the jacket in the same color and protection against the weather very effective.

To an investment in the long term.

In conclusion:

Even though Christmas is over, you can buy this set without problems of reliability and efficiency for the season. If you want to complete a thermal layer, take DOWNUNDER MERINO ZIP TOP for fitting and WINDSTOPPER ® SOFTSHELL JACKET .

Prefer to purchase in the U.S. for the best price.

Where to find : In cf-1339602687 or clicking on the links below directly

Visit their blog super interesting http://www.fishwest.net/explore/

Jacket

Pants

This is a store where I buy regularly for several years without problems. Take good matching sizes U.S. / F. Adjustments to the wrists and ankles allow an accurate fit. Consider also below clothes to put on the choices of sizes.

Product Review: Gore Tex Revivex

As we transition from summer into fall and winter our gear choices become even more important. A Gore-Tex or other DWR type outerwear is almost a necessity in the coming months. Keeping warm and dry is good for morale and allows anglers to stay out longer in a majority of weather situations.  DWR stands for “Durable water repellant coating” and it is a chemical surface treatment applied to apparel and other materials which causes the fabric to become hydrophobic which is better known as water repellant. Water will bead off of the fabric and wick away.  Over time this coating will experience wear and deterioration which will cause a wet and clammy feeling since the fabric is not performing at 100%. However a simple and affordable solution is available to make your DWR and other Gore-Tex gear good as new.

Revivex is a water repellant spray that is designed to restore all DWR coated fabrics back to 100% functionality.  It can be used on Jackets, Pants, Hats, Waders and much more.  The spray is extremely easy to use. Anything treated with Revivex needs to be washed beforehand without detergent. The next step after pulling your gear out of the wash is to spray on the Revivex Treatment and then just throw it in the drier. After that your gear should be good as the day you got it.

Pros-

  • Simplicity of use
  • Range of treatment options – I have used this products on everything from Jackets, Waders and Tents
  •  Price – $14.95 to make your outerwear and other gear water repellant is a small price to pay
  • Performance – Treated gear is as good as the day it was purchased

 

Cons:

  • Small amount – 5 oz containers do not last long with all the gear that this spray can treat

 

Overall Revivex is an excellent and affordable solution for all anglers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to extend the life of their equipment. Revivex sure beats investing in new gear.

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…