Monday, April 28, 2014

When The Fly Rod Sings...

In five short years, I have bought and tested a lot of fly fishing gear.  More than I care to admit.   When I first started out, I bought the cheapest rod and reel that I could find.  And 8 months later, it was time to upgrade.  Then, in another year, I added a couple more sticks to my collection. They all have their purpose.  From a 9 ft 6 wt rod from Cabela's for my still water fishing to the 7 1/2 ft 4 wt Redington Trout Classic (also another great value) for my mountain creeks.  I think that the only rod I didn't buy was a tenkara rod!  

The T! man among others tried to convince me on the Tenkara, but to no avail... There's just something about listening to a reel scream that gets me way excited... Some people like reels and some don't see the need for them.  It's what makes the world go round, I guess!

Then, a few years later I found my go-to rod.  The Sage VT2.   I chose a middle range Sage merely because I couldn't afford the higher end.  I thought it was a pretty good rod.  But, I always had a problem in casting for a long time with it as it was a bit heavy.   But, I did catch a lot of nice fish with it, so it served its purpose!

So, when I met up with the Midgeman and Bigerrfish in Colorado a year ago, I was given a rod to borrow for the day.  Josh had just bought a new Ross Essence FC.  I only had to cast with it for about 10 min to feel the difference between that rod and my VT2.  Not saying that the VT2 is a bad rod in any way.  But, for me and my lack of arm strength, I needed a lighter rod with a little more "whip finish" to it.  And the hours that I put in on the water require a lighter rod, so that I don't get so tired.  And as Josh said to me that day... When a fly rod "sings", you should listen.  At Christmas, I headed out to find the best deal for the singing rod.  Scheels, of all places, a large outdoors store wasn't where I thought that I would find it, but I did.  And on sale!  Originally $179., I got it for $149.  I was THRILLED.  Yes, it had been about six months since I casted it for the first time, but I knew that it probably still had its singing voice.  In the dead of winter, snow flying... I took my great deal of a rod out for a whirl.  And it performed.  I grinned from ear to ear!  It was precise, easy to cast and I was in LOVE with it!!!

Here is the best deal right now if you want to give it a try... Walmart - $113.01.  I see 4 wt and 6 wt 9 ft rods.   I have the 6 wt that throws like a 5.  Perfect for medium to big water.  The 4 wt would be a sweet rod for smaller creeks and streams, but could also work in medium size rivers.   For the price, it just can't be beat.

No matter which rod you choose, just make sure it sings... 
So you can sing along!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Outsmarting Fish ~ Sunday Tippets, Damsel Style

Now, first of all, I am going to tell you right off the bat, I'm not an expert in any means in "outsmarting" fish.  But, recently, I have found a few new tricks that I thought would be helpful to some of you.  Well, at least those that are in the same learning mode as I am!!  In some way or another, we are all learning something on the water each time we go out.  That is a given.  And that is why we fly fish.  Because it is not always the same scenario each time we go out.  Water levels fluctuate, currents change, hatches change, etc. etc.... And so the adventure continues.  So, how do we "outsmart" those trout that lie beneath the riffles and pools of our stream?  

When there isn't a hatch going on and you can visually see the risers in front of you, we look for places that hold trout.  This is where reading the water is a necessity.  When I first started fly fishing, I was so confused on what to look for and where to find it. Five years later, I'm not an expert... but, I do know where they lie a lot of the time.  I just need to perfect that bug selection and set that cast a bit quicker!!   (I have lost way too many trout)   When fishing a river, I look for where the fast water meets the slow water.  Where the deep water meets the shallow water.  And where the rocks offer a resting place for the trout from the fast current. 

This past week, I had a fun experience.  I saw a tree and a lot of obstruction falling across the narrow channel on the side of the main river.  Boy, did I want to investigate!  The short riffle on top going into a deeper small pool in front of a fallen branch.  For sure, there would be a fish in there! Mainly because, he would think that no one would bother him and be in a safe haven.  This was a highly hazardous place for a fly to go astray and not come back.  Do you get my drift?  Drift... yes, that is what I needed to do.  Carefully, drift that fly across that deep spot and then pull the line up quickly before it got caught in the fallen branch. Can you see a "tangled line"???  And maybe only one chance if it was a spooky fish.

I'm definitely getting more daring.  What the heck, I reached into my fly box and picked two flies that I was ok in losing.  (Positive thinking, huh?)  My placement of the flies would have to be perfect.  I could so easily be snagged.  I had about three to four feet of water to drift.  I casted... I drifted right over... BOOM!!! Hello!!!  Up and out of the water he came and then down under that stinkin' branch.  I have lost too many fish lately due to pulling the line.  So, I waited and kept the line tight.  A minute later and he went towards the corner of the trunk of the tree.  Now, I could start stripping the line in a bit.  I worked him a few minutes and he was in the net!  Lucky?  Yeah, that I didn't lose my flies. But, not lucky that he was there.  It was just the perfect place for a fish nap. 

A huge grin appeared on my face as I released him back into the slow current of the river.  I "outsmarted" a fish and it felt soooooo good.   I cannot lie.  We will all have this experience sometime and will relish in what we have learned in our many journeys out to the water.  It makes it so worth it.  = )  Go with your instincts.  You will probably be right!!

How sweet it was...

Size 16 beadhead rainbow sow to lead and entice and a Size 18 purple zebra midge to bite on... 

Footnote:  I recently started tying and both were my poor ties.  But, fish don't seem to care.   Lol.

Sunday Tippet:  Trout fishing is challenging.  But if we find places that fish can feel secure, don't be afraid to try it!  Even if there is a bit of obstruction.  They will try to find a comfortable place where the current is slowed and food is pushed their way, as this channel was.  Trees, undercut banks, rocks (I know, bring a few extra flies) are usually great places to find Mr. Trout.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Brown Zebra Midge Adventure - Revisted

Also affectionately called "The Three Amigo" trip each year, this is a yearly return to one of my favorite rivers in Montana.  And this year, it was trout feeding on midges again.  The "three amigos" (RD, Maynard, and Ernie) had two extras come along on this year's adventure.  We will call them the "two habaneros" (or Lenny and Squiggy).  We had four fishing buddies and for a couple of days and five for a couple days.  It all worked out fine and we all enjoyed each other's company.  The camaradarie on the water is shown by taking turns in holes and us cheering on each other's trophy catch. Also sharing what was working and handing out flies if necessary. 

For five days, we searched and destroyed.  Another trip to "slaughter alley" proved that it was named that previously for a reason.  Although a bit slower in the catching than previous years, I held out hope that there were a couple big fish to be had.  And I was right.  Just have to be patient!!!

 And RD is assigned the river lunches,  What was it this year?  Well, how about pastrami, corned beef, salami, turkey, swiss, havarti, and sourdough bread.  By the 5th day, I thought that we would be tired of all that, so I threw in some croissants and chicken salad... which turned out to be my personal favorite.  Throw in RD's snickerdoodles and oatmeal chocolate chip scotchies... and we weren't hungry in the least.  Oh yeah, turns out the guys don't like grapes.  We will have to change that up next year.  All in all... it was another great trip with lots of time on the water and braving the weather conditions once again.  WIND, rain, sleet... Just plain cold and grey outside.  But, that is March in Montana.  We persevered and fought against the odds of a poor barometric pressure reading. (Yes, I still do believe in the pressure system)  We just couldn't get it over 30.  

The fog came in as we rolled out of town.  But, the one other constant besides the crap weather was serving up brown zebra midges in size 16.  They caught half of my fish probably.  I also had success on pink soft hackle sow bugs and olive hares ears.  And one of my favorite moments was when I decided to play the dry fly game.  Since I don't do it much, this was very gratifying to say the least.

Yes, that would be a high visibility griffiths gnat.  Something that I can see!!!  Only way that I can follow those little bugs...

So, another "Three Amigo" trip is in the books.  Here is a quick recap of the events.  Enjoy in full screen and on 720 p HD (you might have to change it there on the bottom of the screen)... And now to get ready for Fish Tuesday...  = )  No, it never ends.