Monday, June 20, 2011

Small stream fishing

   Tom Rosenbauer has some great tips for fishing skinny water in an article on the Orvis page.  I fished a small creek this weekend and could have used that article a few days earlier.  My favorite tip and one I will follow next time is to use a larger tippet diameter than you would on a stream where the fish see more pressure.  My thinking was the opposite: since the fish are spookier on small streams, I thought I would have to use a lighter tippet.  Tom makes the point that the fish are not likely leader shy and the stouter line size can help rip flies from the brush easier. Boy, that would have been handy on Sunday.  I was casting to water that was about two feet wide and I missed more than I would have liked. 

    I decided to take two rods with me, which is something I really don't like to do but I wanted to fish my 6'6" fiberglass rod with dries, and I wanted to be able to fish nymphs in case nothing was happening on the surface.  I should have just stuck with my 8' 3 wt.  The 6'6" rod was too short to keep my fly out of the 5' tall brush around the stream.  I got a few good casts in with it and with the slow action of that rod they lay down so soft.  Nothing hit though.  It was a really strange day for this stream.  Typically, I don't even mess around with nymphs because the fish usually destroy dries, but I didn't get one hit on top in 4 pools.  I ended up hooking a decent size brown on a GB prince nymph.  I have only caught a few browns and nothing of that size out of this stream so it was a nice surprise.

I ended up with a few more on nymphs but overall a pretty poor day on this stream.  The sky was really photogenic though and I got to try out my new Nikon D90.   I played around with the video mode a bit and filmed a pool with about a hundred brook trout in it.  I love this new camera.  I can't wait to get some nice lenses for it.  The only thing I can think of is maybe the midday sun kept the fish from coming to the surface. That usually isn't a problem there though.  Oh well, maybe just an off day.  Hopper season is coming and I now they can't resist those.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I used to think I was a tough guy.  I didn't need a net.  I can handle a fish.  I was wrong.  I know there are net guys and no net guys.  I used to be the latter, but I have been converted.  Here's why...

I was fishing the lower Kinni when I hooked into a really nice sized brown with my 3wt (>18 inches).  After a pretty good fight, I got him close and tried to get a hand around him.  This beast was too big for me to get a grip on.  I'm 6' and have pretty big hands but, around this fish, my hand couldn't get a grip.  I ended up probably trying to squeeze too hard and eventually lost my grip anyway.  The fish broke off immediately after that and I never got a really good look at him, or a picture for that mater to remember that great fish.  Right then, I was a net man for life.    No more missed grips and a second or third run because I couldn't get a hold of them. 

The second reason I am a net man is the invention of the rubber net bag.  No more flies caught in the netting and the natural slime coat of the fish is more protected.  Also, If you plan to take pictures of your fish, you can rest a fish in a net while you get your camera situated and ready for a shot.  The fish can remain in the water and will be less stressed than if you try to take a picture while holding on to it the whole time. 


If you are looking for a net, I would recommend a rubber bag and the smallest one you can get away with on your favorite stream.  Big nets are heavy and you won't take them with all the time because they are a pain to deal with.  My mother and father-in-law gave me a Brodin Ghost net for my birthday recently and wow, what an awesome net.  I really think fish are less stressed in the clear bag. They seem to not know it's there and try to swim though it repeatedly.  Plus, what a great looking net!  The teak handle is responsibly harvested from plantation teak in Costa Rica.  The craftsmanship is unmatched and will undoubtedly last a lifetime.  I have the Firehole model which is about right for a stream where the average fish is 10-12 inches.


Nice.  Jacked right out of the package. Thanks Rio!

There is a good article at MidCurrent on leaders today.  The question addressed is how long a prepackaged leader should last.  The answer, not surprisingly, is it depends.  Mine have lasted as long as a few trips to about 1 minute after I get it out of the package.  Who goes around looping the butt end of the leader 40,000 times around the rest of the coiled leader?  Can we just stick with like 3-4 loops?  The first time I opened a prepackaged leader I tried to unravel it and about 45 seconds later I was cussing and cutting out knots.  I turned a 9' 5x $5 leader into a 4' butt section in a minute flat.  I can't be the only one who has had these problems.  In fact, the last one I opened I almost ruined for the same reason.  I thought I unraveled it right but I ended up with monster tangle instead. 

Here are my tips for buying leaders:
First, don't think tying your own will save money.  If you like to do it knock yourself out, but I have a hard enough time finding the time to tie flies let alone my own leaders.  If you want to get all crazy with leader science and adjust your butt section length then tying your own is the only option.  Otherwise stick with knotless prefabs.

Second, buy 3 packs. It's basically like buy 2 get one free. 

Third, always buy 9' leaders.  7.5'ers are better for nymphing and you usually use a bigger tippet size for that anyway so just cut off a few feet from you 9' 5x and you have a decent nymphing leader.  For dry flies I like at least a 9' leader in 5x for the clear and still spring creeks in WI and MN.    This way you always have the leader you want.  Like Demetri Martin says "when someone asks me if I have a poncho I don't say no.  I say not yet.  Because I have a blanket and scissors.  I'm only a minute from having a poncho, or 10 scarves."

Fourth, change your leader if it gets too short.  Don't spend hours fishing a leader you have tied 64 inches of 5x tippet on to so you don't have to change it.  It will turn over poorly and you will probably break off a fish if you do hook one due to the dissimilar size of the mono at the knot junction.  I have done this too many times, and I know how tempting it is to just keep fishing no mater how crappy your leader is.  Just change it. You will catch more fish and have a better day.  If you don't have another leader tie on two tippet sizes to step down the size gradually.  Congratulations, you just tied your own knotted leader. 

Maybe it is easier than unwinding one out of the package……