I previously lived 15 minutes away from a trout paradise known as the Platte river in Wyoming. Then I found myself married and moving back to Iowa where my wife and I both grew up. It only made sense since both of our families are here. Obviously the trout fishing is not as lucrative, but the hawkeye state has some great areas to fish.
My wife knew nothing of fly fishing until we got married. After a few outings with our fishing crew and a couple of backpacking trips out west, we finally convinced her to give it a shot. It didn’t take long and she was asking tons of questions. She was hooked like a driftless brown taking a juicy hopper in September.
We started her off with the basics, putting a rod and reel together, stringing a rod, the difference between fly line, leader and tippet. She found it interesting how much their is to know before a fly even hits the water.
We even spent time on the tailgate at home practicing knots with string just to make it easier to learn. Through the spring and summer she has fished in Wyoming, Colorado and Iowa. She is now proficient at reading water and has an understanding where the fish tend to hang out. She is quickly learning and the different ways to cast and mend her line to get that fly where she wants it. After our last trip to northeast Iowa, her favorite two fly combo is now the hopper dropper. It is fun to watch her progress in her knowledge and skills. I find it as exciting as she does when she hooks up, and share in her frustration and laughter when she misses.
After a great day on the stream we find ourselves back on the tailgate talking about the day and enjoying our favorite craft beer. She always has one last question, “when do we get to go again?”
Today marks the long awaited return of the Fishwest 5wt Shootout. Morgan and I have been so busy fishing and in the shop lately that we haven’t had a chance to get together and really put the remaining rods to the test. For that we do apologize so without further adieu here are our thoughts on the next rod in the shootout: The Helios 2: Tip Flex by The Orvis Company.
The Orvis Company has a long and storied history in the sport of fly fishing. Charles F. Orvis of Manchester Vermont started the Orvis Company in 1856. Orvis holds the distinction of being the oldest fly tackle manufacturer in America, since its inception Orvis has been producing exceptional fly tackle and is constantly pushing the boundaries of technological innovation within their fly rods.
The Helios 2 is the flagship of the Orvis line with good reason. Building off of the 2007 release of the original Helios, the H2 is 20% lighter and stronger than its predecessor the Helios. If the performance of the rod doesn’t speak for itself the ascetics of the rod most certainly will. The deep blue blank and the Machined aluminum reel seat with beautiful wood insert take this rod over the top.
As always in order to maintain fairness within the test we utilized the same reel and line combination with each rod. For this test we have decided to use the Clearwater Fly Reel from Orvis and that is paired with the Gold Taper fly line from Rio.
Without boring you to death with more details here are the thoughts Morgan and I had about the H2.
30ft: Paired with the Rio Gold Line I feel like this rod did okay loading up within this distance. With that being said you could totally tell this rod has plenty more to offer in terms of power so it took a minute to get used to casting this rod within this distance. The presentation qualities of this rod would suffer in my opinion due to the tip being a little on the stiffer side when paired with this line. I honestly believe that if an angler overlined this rod it would definitely perform much better in what I would consider “typical” trout range.
50ft: This is where the rod really started to shine. This is where the rod became more accurate and a lot easier to cast. Flies landed like a whisper. The extremely lightweight nature of the rod itself made it both easy and highly enjoyable to cast at this distance with knowing that the rod still had plenty in the tank in order to throw out the “hero” cast.
70ft: Again long distance casts were smooth as silk and as easy as 1st grade level math homework. Again the rod handled the casts with grace and precision. These casts rarely if ever get made when fishing for trout. However with the H2 in hand I would have the utmost confidence in getting the job done right in the first cast.
I was very excited to get my hands on the Orvis Helios 2 after watching some very impressive videos of the rod intentionally being broken. Being the oldest U.S. fly fishing company, Orvis rods have a lot to live up to and the 9’ 5 weight Tip Flex H2 did not disappoint. In my opinion, this rod was one of the best do it all, Rocky Mountain trout rods in our shootout. Orvis offers the H2 in either a Tip Flex model or a Mid Flex model. With many rods currently on the market being faster action tip flex rods, we chose to stick with the most similar offering for the H2. Aesthetically, the H2 is beautiful. A dark blue blank strays from the ambers, greens, and blacks that we see from many other manufacturers.
30ft: The Helios 2 did pretty well casting within 30ft which is what I would consider “Utah range” for our local readers. The rod had a little more backbone than I prefer for short casting but adjusting your casting stroke will get you into the sweet spot. The tip is little stiff for close quarters presentations but an over weighted line like the Scientific Anglers GPX or even the full weight heavy Rio Grand would get the rod loading more at shorter distances.
50ft: With 20 more feet of line, the rod started to load a bit deeper into the blank which made the feel of this rod much more apparent. The smooth taper and light weight of the H2 made it a breeze to cast and a pleasure to hold. The H2 was plenty accurate at 50ft and as we saw, it could do ever greater distances with great accuracy.
70ft: Long distance casts were met with ease and accuracy. Most of us rarely cast 70ft casts but when it becomes necessary to make serious casts, it can be done and it can still be done with confidence and accuracy. The performance of this rod with this much line out doesn’t suffer. Some rods will get it done but this rod gets it done well.
Overall Morgan and I agreed 100% on this rod. This would be an excellent “all around” trout rod. However with that being said we also came to the conclusion that this rod may be best suited overlined with a 6wt line or a line with over weighted construction like the Scientific Anglers GPX ,Rio Grand, or the Orvis Hydros Power Taper.
There you have it as always we hope that you enjoyed our thoughts on the Helios 2 and this latest addition to the Fishwest 5wt shootout. For questions about the H2 or any of the rods in the shootout please give us a call at 801.617.1225 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for the next installment. The “One” rod by Sage.
Editors Note: Bristol Bay Alaska is one of the most pristine wild places on this planet. As an angler and an outdoor enthusiast I hope to see this area remain unchanged for a long time to come. Organizations like Trout Unlimited are doing all they can in order to prevent this mining project from ever taking place. Its up to us to let our voice be heard in order to protect this region for future generations. Take action by clicking HERE. -JC
The legal term used to describe it was mineral rights.
The way it played out was like this. A family would have a few acres in East Tennessee or Southeastern Kentucky with maybe one dwelling and a barn. A representative for a coal company would show up and offer hard cash if the owner would sign over the mineral rights to his property. In the poverty ridden condition that most of my ancestors lived, a city dude offering a couple of hundred dollars in cash for what might or might not be under the ground seemed like a no brainer. A no brainer until a group from the company showed up and told these folks they had to leave because they had come to claim not what was on their property, but what was under their property.
Mines bored deep cavernous holes in the hillside to extract the black gold that would become a defining element of my regions contribution to the industrial revolution. With impunity these companies worked round the clock to pull ton after ton of coal from the land. Many of these families stayed on in mining camps where they toiled six and sometimes seven days a week raping the land they used to own.
One of the resounding effects the mines had on the region was not in what they pulled from underneath the land; it was the runoff of poisons that they polluted into the streams that flowed from the high country. Streams that once were a water source and a provider of food ran orange and red; literally everything within them died. Children were born with defects which were in part generated by mothers who were exposed to a myriad of caustics that invaded their bodies and in turn the bodies of their children as toxic levels of selenium, mercury, and arsenic seeped into the water table.
The financial boon filled the pockets of many, but a very small percentage of them actually lived in the area. Workers were paid in scrip, which were just tin tokens from which to buy from the company store which inflated the prices thereby increasing their profits as well.
It took decades for this to be turned around, and in the area in which I grew up; its effects remain on a pilfered landscape, and a few streams which have yet to recover. And it is quite possible that they will never recover. Sometimes, the impact of industry on a landscape is too great a price to pay; it is too large a burden to risk.
When the subject of the pebble mine in Alaska began to surface, I felt connected. From an environmental standpoint, I saw here in Tennessee (albeit on a much smaller scale) what could happen there and was angered to the point of action. Sometimes, and perhaps it could be argued most of the time, the best development or industrial progress is none at all. There comes a time when we must evaluate financial gain against the strong backdrop of what would be lost. In most cases what would be lost, is lost forever and triggers a chain of events that will impact much more than the particular region.
Bristol Bay is a massive area that is primarily wild untouched country. This area has been home to native Alaskan Tribes for millennia and is considered to be the largest fishery for sockeye salmon on the planet. Hundreds upon hundreds of miles in streams participate in the watershed through the Nushagak and Kvivhak rivers, and smaller streams such as the Napotoli and Stuyhok.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency began a study on the area and how a pebble mine might impact it from an ecological and environmental perspective. This was of utmost importance to the Alaskan native tribes who have entire cultures built around the lifecycle of the salmon that call the bay home. The study intended to evaluate the development and mining of this area be its impact while in operation (which was estimated to be between twenty and one hundred years), and the recovery and maintenance of the area after the mine had closed.
Personally, I have yet to visit Alaska, but from a distant perspective, to negatively impact a location where nearly half of the sockeye salmon in the world congregate with numbers going well above thirty million fish moving inshore to spawn is beyond a bad idea, it is criminal. If you also take into account the other fish species that live there (lake trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, pike), the sheer numbers of fish that would be effected staggers even the broadest of imaginations. Try to wrap your mind around 200,000 rainbow trout in one watershed!
The long term economic impact would be catastrophic as entire communities who, through commercial fishing and tourism, find their subsistence would find themselves with a dwindling fish population and a constantly growing demand as well as the ever upward costs of living. There are families who have been in an economic relationship with Bristol Bay for hundreds of years. To fish its waters for sustenance and financial gain is all they know. To remove or reduce it would be to (in effect) kill entire villages.
The E.P.A. assessment states that up to 94 miles of streams would be completely lost because of their location in relation to the mine footprint. 94 miles! Can you imagine how many fish would just vanish forever?
The E.P.A. report goes on to state that reduced food resources would result in the death of many streams outside the footprint due to the loss of organic material, a reduction in winter fish habitat and by nature of design, reduce or remove vital spawning areas.
The blow that would be dealt to creatures such as the storied brown bear, or the bald eagle would also be irreparable. A reduction in food, a reduction in habitat, and once again a reduction in the local economy and way of life.
When do we say enough? When do we finally realize that once a fragile thread like Bristol Bay is severed, it is highly likely that it will not be mendable? When do we stand and say that not only is it a bad idea for the wildlife, it is a bad idea for the people? When do we stop and take a position that does not approve in any shape, form, or fashion the potential health risks involved in a huge mining operation? When do we finally realize that clean water impacts every person on this planet, and that wild places need to remain wild places?
With fall approaching and the summer season ending our minds here at Fishwest have been wandering towards fishing destinations around the world. As the season is starting to cool off here it’s about to heat up in the southern hemisphere. The crew at Gin-Clear Media has put together another great video highlighting the great fishing opportunities found in New Zealand.
Editors Note: This wonderful Insight comes from Ryan and the guide staff from Driftless On The Fly located in North East Iowa. The Driftless region provides excellent opportunities for anglers of all skill levels to enjoy a variety of coldwater and warmwater fly fishing situations. Without further adieu, please enjoy – JC
There is a great deal to learn when starting out, so while learning the basics of casting, fly selection, and hooking is important to the fishing process, we also try to impart some of social aspects of fishing as well.
Fishing etiquette may sound silly to some, but to any fly fishermen out there who have had their long-awaited trip interrupted by someone who lacks this sense of courtesy, they know full well the importance of this knowledge. It seems like anyone who has fished long enough generally has a story about this.
So what does fishing etiquette entail?
Give others space. If you approach another fisherman on the stream, try to respect the fact that they want their solitude. Often a knowing short greeting or simple nod and smile will suffice. If they want to converse, they will.
Do not fish directly up stream or down stream of them. Continue to walk upstream or down and find another place. You can always come back. Fishing directly above or below could spook the fish they are working on, and honestly- they were there first. We recently took our Fly Fishing Club on their trip. While working with a young man on a particularly nice run, another fisherman approached on the opposite side and began to fish our run. The man apparently had no idea that this was wrong, and in fact started talking to us while throwing his line over the top of ours. I instructed my student to reel in, and we had a great conversation later about what not to do. A teachable moment on the stream.
Pack out all trash. This includes line and strike indicators. Leave only footprints. In Iowa, we are lucky enough to fish private land where they permit public fishing. Don’t do do anything that jeopardizes that.
Pay it forward by offering to help someone that looks like they may need it, and I am speaking more in a physical sense- climbing a slippery bank, safely crossing a fence, making a stream crossing. Fly fisherman are generally a generous community and will come to the aid of others, but don’t assume that someone wants your help, especially when it comes to technique.
It really comes down to common sense and the golden rule while out on the stream. Respect one another and the land that you are privileged to fish and everyone wins.
I’ve come to realize that crappie take top-water flies with incredible enthusiasm. Although not a “classic” fly rod target, their surface-slurping tendencies – especially in the fall – deserve your attention…
Although the spring crappie bite can be awesome, late summer and early fall can be even better. At my latitude in southern Manitoba – just north of the U.S. border – this time period typically runs from the last week in August through the first two weeks of September.
When the weather is pleasant and settled, crappie at that time of year turn on like crazy. I usually fish small, shallow, flatland reservoirs and the fish swarm into the same weedy bays they frequented in the spring. They are also drawn toward turns and points on rocky shorelines. The rip-rap along a dam is another magnet.
The magic really starts to happen an hour or two before sunset. The crappies often give themselves away as they swirl after baitfish and other critters. Better yet, they eagerly suck in #8 to #12 streamers attached to a intermediate line and a 3 to 5 weight rod. A type II line also works well, especially if the water is 5 or 6 feet deep. Some of my “go-to” patterns are shown in the accompanying photos.
Occasionally, if there are sunfish around, I will use a #12 or #14 nymph. Both crappie and sunfish will hit a small nymph but I really believe that crappie prefer something a little bit larger.
Wait a second… Didn’t the title of this article say something about top water? Don’t worry, it’s coming…
As dusk moves in, put away the streamers and tie on a panfish-sized popper or gurgler. Short, rhythmic strips – and the resulting surface commotion – draw the fish in.
My favorite outfit for presenting poppers and gurglers was inspired by a Sage Bluegill. A Sage Bluegill is probably a bit heavy for most of the panfish in my area so I’ve taken a crisp action 4 weight that is 7 ½ feet long and matched it up with a 6 weight line and a light reel. The resulting combo loads great with a short line; it is amazing at hitting little pockets in rip-rap or any other target. Plus, an 11 inch crappie puts a good bend in it!
A boat or a float tube are great for working fall hot spots but walking along the rip-rap face of a dam is also effective. Actually, as dusk turns to night – but the fishing is still lit up – walking on shore with a minimum of equipment is perhaps preferable to being in a boat or a tube.
Crappie are a great way to say good-bye to the dog days of summer and say hello to fall!
Editor’s Note: Dave Zanardelli from Pennsylvania recently returned from the 2014 Fishwest hosted trip to Tarpon Cay Lodge in San Felipe, Mexico in cooperation with Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures. Here is what he said to say about his experience:
Tarpon Cay Lodge, in cooperation with the Hotel San Felipe de Jesus, may be the perfect destination for the first time tarpon fly fisher. From my first impression upon arrival of complimentary margaritas to ease the travel fatigue, to the last impression of making a detour on the way to the airport to visit a Mayan ruin, everything is just about as good as it gets. Comfortable accommodations, excellent housekeeping, and the highest quality food make a visit here an experience that will remain a pleasant memory for a very long time.
Now, the important part…tarpon! Baby tarpon are not everywhere, but one is never out of sight of them for very long. Every day provided multiple opportunities at fish, from singles to schools of a dozen or more that had one thing on their minds – eating! The fishing is not difficult, and the casting is not all that demanding. Never before has a guide on a tropical flat instruct me to make a short cast, at nine o’clock, at 20 feet! A raw beginner will have reasonable opportunities to boat fish. Of course, being a capable caster greatly increases the number of chances. And when a tarpon does eat your fly, good luck boating it! These guys jump, fight, jump, run, jump, and bulldog all the way to the boat. One tarpon to the boat in three hook ups seemed about average.The second most important factor in any trip – the guides. These guides are friendly, expert at what they do, enthusiastic about what they do, and top notch at providing instruction. Carlos and Chris are among the best fly fishing guides I have encountered.
For those of you who want numbers, here they are. In six days of fishing, I jumped between 40 & 45 tarpon and managed to boat 16 of them. They weighed from about 7 pounds to nearly 20, averaging at about 12 pounds.
I will be back next year. Along with a companion too skeptical to go on this trip, but is now convinced of his error!
Last Thing: The team here at Fishwest is proud to announce we will once again be hosting a trip to the Tarpon Cay Lodge in conjunction with Yucatan Fly Fishing in San Felipe, Mexico. Join us from August 15-22nd of 2015. Please check out the Fishwest Outfitters Travel Page for more details or call us toll free at 877.773.5437
Once again the boys from Motiv Fishing and GEOFISH are at it again. This time they are a long way from home in the African nation of Botswana. While dodging hippos and malaria ridden mosquitoes these boys are in search of the illusive Emerald Fire and Golden Bass. Check it out!
Check out this video from Sage that highlights the best part about Saltwater fly fishing. In my opinion one of the greatest aspects of this type of fishing is Location, Location, Location. The fish themselves aren’t too shabby either! I mean think about it, If the fishing is terrible for the day the sunshine and the flats are hard to argue with. Maybe I am the only one that thinks that way though. All I know is I am constantly dreaming about getting back to places like this.
Having the right tool for the job in a situation like this is absolutely critical. The Salt Rod series from Sage is the latest offering in a long line of great saltwater rods. If this rod preforms like the Sage One or the Xi3 in the field, anglers will be rejoicing all around the world.
I finally had a chance to break-in my Echo Glass this past weekend, and found that glass is just an awesome way to catch trout. I purchased a 6’ 9” 3 weight a few weeks ago, I had taken it up to one of our local rivers as soon as I bought it to test it out and had terrible luck. I Wasn’t use to the super slow action of the rod, I kept making terrible casts and couldn’t get the hook set right, it has a completely different feel from all of my graphite rods I own, once I got home I started to second guess my purchase. I couldn’t understand what all the hype was about. I had read so many blog post and comments on fishing with glass and many of them raved about how much fun glass was.
After that first outing I put the glass on ice for a couple weeks, it wasn’t until this past weekend I decided to fish it on a smaller creek that I had great success on the week before. Knowing that the creek had been fishing extremely well I figured this would be a good opportunity to hook into some fish. This time I was more familiar with the action of the rod, making better casts and could land flies accurately where before I was lucky not to get a tangle.
Throwing a size 10 Chernobyl Ant, I landed the fly underneath an overhanging bush; sure enough I had my first take, the first impression of the rod with a fish on was, “this is awesome, you can feel every move the fish made, every twist and turn and every head shake.” It was a larger fish and was a little concerned the rod wouldn’t have enough of a backbone to keep it out of the submerged branches or handle the force of the fight combined with the water flow. I ended up coaxing the fish around the branches and worked it into a pool where I could land it. As the day went on and hooking into more fish my attitude towards the Echo Glass change dramatically, it was such a sweet feel; it made every fight super fun, even for smallest fish and the larger ones, watch out because you were about to go for a ride.
Once the day was over I came to the conclusion that this is not a beginner’s rod, you definitely want to be an experienced caster. This thing is a noodle, so you have to slow your cast down a lot, that being said once you have your cast dialed in you can’t ask for a more sensitive and fun rod. If you are looking for a rod to fish those smaller and more technical creeks this is it, short enough to make those tough cast under branches easier but still has enough power to make longer casts.