Friday, August 7, 2009

Angler encounters of the annoying kind

There are a few types of people one will run into while fishing. I have encountered all of these people and I only have one thing to say: No wonder there is so much gear for sale on craigslist.

The name dropper: This guy will definitely mention he spoke with Bob Johnson down at Steve so and so’s fly shop and tell you that the trout are only hitting size 32 midges. He might also, mention he saw Cornelius down here on Tuesday and they were hammering size 14 black Joe’s hoppers but NOT the brown ones. This guy will surely initiate conversation with you first or just stop when you walk by expecting to enlighten you about what he heard.

The no talker:
This guy will respond to the ubiquitous “Any luck?” with a simple “nope”. He will definitely be wearing camo of some sort due to the over lap of Duck hunting and fishing gear. If he does have a fly rod it will be a 7-9wt on a stream where a 3wt would suffice. If he has spinning tackle he will have braided line because it makes it easier to detect walleye strikes and there will be a buck tail spinner tied on trailing a chuck of dried up night crawler. No, this guy doesn’t like you and yes he is carrying an empty stringer.

The big talker: This could be anyone. Maybe even you a few times. You just caught a massive trout maybe an 18”er and you have to tell everyone that walks by. Try to resist. Would you believe you if you heard that from some guy? Not likely.

The off duty guide: This guy will answer your “any luck” with “yeah, a few.” Which means like 20 and I’m not going to tell you where or on what so don’t ask. This gentleman is easily identified by ether a very elaborate 3 fly rig or Sims waders that look like they walked to Alaska and back. He will likely be using one of his nine sage Z-axis rods and be selling all of his 9 sage XPs. Of course, the easiest way to recognizes this guy is he will definitely not be wearing a wedding ring.

The aficionado: I love this encounter the most. In fact, it just happened to me the other day. I fish in western Wisconsin and this time of year is notorious for its trico hatches. I refuse to fish trico hatches because, in my limited experience, big or even decent sized fish don’t bother with size 24 insects. If I wanted to nail a bunch of 10 inchers I’d go fish for brook trout. In any case, I wait until the hatch is over, which also has the advantage of not being at 5am, and fish attractor dries with a bead head dropper. The other day I was walking out at about 930 am and two guys were walking back in. The boisterous aficionado piped up as I walked by and proclaimed “hatch is over”. Subtext: Your lazy dumb ass isn’t going to catch anything. I had to stick him in the ribs a little-
What size were they coming off?
Him: 24.
Me: Were they keying on males or females?
Him in his head: HUH? Out loud: probably a little of both.
Me: Get any?
Him: 2
Me: any size to them?
Him: not really, maybe 10”.
I nodded and kept walking. He said, likely sarcastically, “good luck.” This is not a fish story. I fished from 930-1 and caught 5. 2 12 inchers and a fat 18 incher that got me straight into the line on my reel and took be up and down the pool twice with my 5wt. The guy likely knows his stuff but is so caught up in what he is supposed to be fishing that time of year he ignores quality water time with other patterns.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The secret is a well planed approach

Any fly fisherman will tell you that the first cast is the most important. So here we go, I will explain in detail how to approach a nice stretch of water and catch a trout.
First, calmly stand next to the bank down stream of the area you believe has the best chance to hold trout. Then, wait until you see the guy up stream leave his hole and move right past the riffle you thought was so promising. Move in on the hole he was fishing. You must wait for the water to “cool off” after he left so the trout are not spooked. This usually involves careful selection of the proper fly but since you clearly saw a size 18 dark brown caddis attached to the hook keeper of the gentleman who caught no fewer than 6 trout from this hole earlier you should probably stick with that. So now, you have some time to watch the water. Look for rising trout and try to see lanes to drift your fly that would maximize its exposure to hungry trout. At this time you should also attempt to block out any structure in the immediate area. This will ensure that when you toss your line behind you the tree RIGHT BEHIND you will be a total surprise. Now that the water is “cooled off” you can slip quietly into the shallow water down stream of the hole. Slide your foot into the pool ever so softly. Unfortunately, the rocks found in most trout streams have been covered with a slick film, originally developed by NASA and licensed by trout for protection, so slick that once force is applied to it will accelerate that force in a random direction at near the speed of light. Now that you are near the ass over teakettle position bring the other foot down with enough force to catch your fall and make a depth-charge like supersonic boom. This will scare the trout in this hole into an alternative trout dimension only reachable with $1000 fly rods and $750 reels. Be sure at this point to check if anyone saw that. If the guy who was previously in that hole is laughing at you, the finger or small arms fire would be appropriate Okay, so the fish might be spooked but its worth a few casts right? So, strip off enough line make sure you can catch you fly in both the bushes across the river and the tree 30 feet behind you. Now, cast a few times away from your intended target to make sure you are casting the appropriate distance. Walk down and unhook your fly from the log nowhere near where you want to cast. Okay, range is about right… Now, apply enough floatant to cause an environmental disaster is most wildlife refuges. Make a mental note to buy quality feathers next time so you don’t have to use so much floatant. Let your line flow down stream, raise the rod tip until the fly line is lifted from the water and only the leader and fly are afloat. Pop the fly out of the water, redirect the fly towards the fish after your first false cast and allow the fly to gently land 6 to ten feet too short and scare and remaining small fish when it lands directly where they are rising. This is only slightly better than casting the proper distance but having your line slap down on the water like you were Indiana Jones and the temple of scared off trout. Heeyaw!

5 things fly fisherman can blow a cool grand on

Here is the first part in a five part series entitled "5 things fly fisherman can blow a cool grand on"

#1 fly rods. This one is obvious. One rod can cost upwards of 3 grand if you like bamboo rods built by two guys from Montana.

Since most people have something to the effect of "purchase of any bamboo fly rod will result in immediate grounds for divorce" in some sort of legal document I'll just stick with the graphite and fiberglass rods.

Fly rods are way above and beyond a grand. I would say an average fly fisherman would have 5 fly rods. I have 4 and they are way less expensive than an average rod. Mine would run about $600-700. Most fly fisherman think a rod cheaper than 300 bucks isn't worth crap. It would be like buying running shoes for a marathon from walmart.
Here is a list of rods I think most respectable fly fisherman would own:

3wt for trout on small streams $300
5wt for bigger streams, windy days and maybe small mouth bass. This is a real all around rod and would likely be where someone would spend the most money $600 for maybe a Scott or Winston rod.
6 or 7 wt for smaller salmon and maybe steelhead. Or just big rivers on drift boats. Also for Largemouth bass, small mouth, carp and light saltwater stuff. Not an everyday rod probably for trips $250.
9wt for saltwater and pike. Unless you are crazy for bone fish and juvenile tarpon a cheaper rod here would do fine. $250
11wt for mature tarpon and tuna. They don't sell cheap 11 wts so here is 500 dollar rod.

I would say that this is an average selection with no "specialty rods"
Most people have at least 2-3 specialty rods.
Fiberglass 6'6 2 or 3 wt. for brook trout $200 and you have to build it yourself
0wt just to mess around with. $300
13wt for Sailfish, sharks and marlin $900. A guy in San diego just caught a 9' great white off La Jolla on a Scott 13wt.

So we are up to about
Wait, you thought I was done there?
There still are travel rods (3wt and 5wt depending on where you are going) these are 5-7 piece rods instead of 4 piece. $700 for both
S-glass fiberglass rod 5wt $300 Better action than graphite
Fast action 5 wt $900 for when you actually learn to cast like a pro. You can rip off a 100' cast with one of these babies.
Last action 3 wt. Like the last action hero. no, I made that up. But I would buy one if they made one.
Zero action 20 wt. I made that up too but I bet someone has one. JAWS!
-2wt for theoretical trout. These are so small they are only predicted to exist by scientists. Mostly found in MN.
-6wt for tadpoles. Get a hold of a 2 oz tadpole on one of these babies and it will feel like a 18"er
If they sold a fly rod for catching flys I would probably want that too.
That reminds me of the funniest thing I ever heard when I was fly fishing: How do you catch a fly? Dead serious I'v heard it twice. People think fly fishing is fishing for actual flies.

Total: Way more than my wife would ever let me spend on fly rods....

boy I sure want a 8'6" 4 wt and a S-glass 5wt. And a 2 wt oh yeah, and a fast action 7 wt. maybe a 13 wt if I move back to SD and a............
It's an addiction. I can't stop myself.

That sounds about right to me. Now all these rods need reels and line. That will take us to the #2 thing fly fisherman can easily blow a grand on. Next week: Reels and line.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In the begining there were trout

There's a fine line between fly fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
- Steven Wright

Ah yes, fly fishing is quite possibly the most humbling endeavor I have ever undertaken. Many times I have looked up and down steam to see if anyone witnessed my latest attempt at pruning the foliage directly behind my intended target. If it were not for the rising trout on the beautiful stream in front of me any passer by might wonder what all the thrashing about with a 9’ stick and cussing was all about. I am an amateur fly fisherman but a seasoned trout angler. I have been fishing for trout since I was 5 but recently learned to fly fish. I am self taught which means a few things: I cast like sh#t, I don’t think dry fly fishing is the best way to catch fish and I don’t know anyone who has told me different. This is my chronicle of the highs and lows of learning to fly fish.