With fall in full swing this is the time of year when the temps get cooler and the forecast calls for more precipitation. A good jacket is a must! The G4 Pro from Simms Fishing Products is the answer to your prayers when the weather takes a turn for the worst. The G4 features a Gore-Tex Pro Shell material and enough space to fit all your necessities while fishing. What more can you really ask for.
I used to head out on my float tube with a single outfit and one or two spare spools. It was great in theory but I think I actually changed spools twice in about ten years. It just seemed like way too much effort on a float tube in the middle of a lake.
These days I head out with two or three complete outfits instead. I realize that the minimalists are now groaning, but maybe the gear junkies are intrigued? The rods get rigged on shore and whatever isn’t in my hand is lashed to the tube with a couple of Velcro ties. Swapping one for another takes about a minute and I have no qualms about changing things up whenever the need arises. The last trip I took for bluegills is a great example…
It was a July evening and I launched my tube at about 6 PM. I had a moderate action 3 weight in my hand; a clear intermediate line ran through the guides. This is my “go to” rod for sunfish. I can’t keep piles of running line from tangling on my stripping apron, so most casts are short and the moderate action rod lends a good feel to this. The intermediate line is effective because the sunfish are often quite shallow.
I also had a 2 weight with a floating line on board. If the ‘gills started rising later in the evening, this stick could lay out small dries for them. My last rod was another 3 weight set up to pick off suspended fish in deep water.
That last statement might strike some people as being a bit of a contradiction. Generally speaking, 3 weights and deep water aren’t mentioned in the same breath. Neverthess, you can use a fast action 3 weight to deliver a home-made shooting head capable of dropping flies to depths of 10 or 12 feet. To make a shooting head like this, cut off the first 30 feet of a 5 weight sinking line (Type 3) and then attach it to 60 or 70 feet of 20 pound Amnesia with an Albright knot. The Amnesia, naturally, is the running line and gets attached to your backing.
I found some fish after only about 10 minutes of prospecting. They were in scattered submerged weeds between a couple docks. The water was only about 4 feet deep and the intermediate line – with a scud pattern attached – worked like magic. Jeepers, can a 9 or 10 inch bluegill pull! They don’t run or jump, but they put an amazing bend in a light rod. After about half a dozen tussles like that, I decided to try another spot.
I paddled up to a line of reeds growing right beside some thick, sunken cabbage. The intermediate line had no Mojo in this location; it didn’t seem to be getting the fly deep enough into the weeds, so I pulled out the shooting head, and did my best imitation of a Bassmaster flipping a heavy jig to penetrate cover.
I had about ten feet of the sinking line outside the rod tip. I paddled along the reeds, lobbing a micro-leech into reedy, weedy pockets. I wouldn’t strip the fly in but simply dance it around with the rod tip before picking up and lobbing it into the next pocket. The bluegill seemed to like this approach and several sucked in the leech. Although usually reserved for deeper water, the shooting head proved it had a place in the shallow jungle.
Eventually, darkness crept in; I kept an eye open for rising fish, hoping to pull the 2 weight off the bench. Although this didn’t materialize, it was still an incredibly fun and satisfying evening….
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Here’s the outfits I carry when I’m not going after sunfish:
Smallmouth or largemouth bass… I carry a Sage bass rod and a couple of 8 weights – one with a type 2 sinking line and one with a shooting head. The bass rod, naturally, gets used for poppers around shallow cover. The type 2 line helps me hit deeper weed beds and the shooting head – either a type 3 or type 6 – is handy for dredging.
Stillwater trout… A 6 weight with a floating line lets me throw dries to rising fish or dangle chironomids under an indicator. For the bulk of my stillwater trouting, I wield a different 6 weight with an intermediate line. Lastly, I carry the same shooting head system that I would for smallies and LMB’s.
Crappies… I use the same outfits that I do for bluegill. However, I swap the 2 weight for a specialized 4 weight that delivers small poppers and gurlers. More details about this rod are in my Pisciaphilia article called, “Canadian Fall Fishing: Topwater Crappie Action.”
Pike… I am often throwing BIG flies for pike. The outfits I use are like the bass selection above but I trade a couple of 10 weights for the 8 weights.
One final note! Be careful if you’re paddling your tube around with a couple rods hanging off the side and extending behind you. Don’t back into anything!
Sadly it is slowly transitioning into that time of year when the Waders have to come out of hibernation. Some of us prefer to wet wade in most cases but that doesn’t work come fall and wintertime.
If it is time to consider getting new waders check out the Silver Sonic Waders by the Orvis Company. These lightweight, breathable stockingfoot waders are on the cutting edge of wader technology. They feature Orvis’ patented SonicSeam technology, these waders are not stitched, instead they are welded together for lasting wear.
These waders come in both a Men’s and Women’s model for all anglers! Check out what Orvis has to say:
Every 4 or 5 years the tropical moisture of El Nino creates monsoons in the Rocky Mountains from late July through August and possibly September during enhanced cycles. This is a good thing. Typically August is the hottest month in the northern hemisphere and daily rain cools the air temperate, increases river flows and consequently also lowers water temperate. Cold water fish species endure less stress. The downside is the rivers tend to be more turbid from muddy runoff upstream. In times of plenty, anglers should continue using good techniques for catch and release. Fish mortality increases with stress and injury.
Stress factors that will kill fish are lack of oxygen in warm water, fighting a fish to exhaustion, poor landing and keeping them too long out of water. In addition, bringing fish, such as, grayling or lake trout from deep water too quickly to the surface can be fatal. Anglers need a balance of experience and good sense. Don’t fish in low water on hot days. A fish shouldn’t be out of the water longer than anglers can hold their breath. Higher test-strength line shortens the battle. Keeping the fish in the net and in the water helps insure a long life. Wet your hands before handling fish. A dry hand can wipe the mucus or slime from the skin and increase the possibility of infection.
Injury is reduced with artificial flies and lures. A fish will suck bait in deeply. By chance if your fly is hooked deep, simply cut the line close to the hook. It will typically deteriorate. Don’t worry about losing fish with barbless hooks, just keep the line tight. They are easier to remove from the lips, mouths and cheeks. Avoid handling your catch over hard surfaces such as boats and rocks. Fish wiggle a lot and are slippery. So, keep them in the net and if possible release them from the net. Neoprene nets are better than twine and bigger baskets hold the all of the fish. With wet hands, gently place your catch in slower water, facing upstream in a river, pushing them forward and pulling back until they swim from your hands. Practice good conservation in your piscaphilia purses. All anglers want to photograph their trophy, so just hold your breath and smile.
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!