Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I fished the kinnikinnick river is western Wisconsin a few weekends ago. I fish there pretty often and I have had few days as bad as this one. It was the Sunday before labor day so it was pretty crowed. I fished the section of river below the dam at river falls and saw 3 people before I got to the bend pool about a quarter mile downstream. Someone was fishing the bend pool so I moved down to my favorite (and secret) spot and, as usual, no one was there. I waded in and fished my way up the pool. No luck until I was almost to the top of the pool and I got a bite on a #16 bloody prince nymph (greygoat.com). It was just a little guy 10-11 inches but he jumped and was a kick to play with my 3 wt. I fished the rest of the pool to no avail and moved on. The best advice I can give for slow fishing is to move around and mix it up. Start with size: Normal, smaller then bigger. Then shape, maybe to a scud or something with a bigger tail than you normally use. Next, (I never get this far) change fly colors. i.e. use a pink copper john instead of regular copper etc. I fished my way down stream and no one was in my normal spots. It seemed people were trying some tougher water for some reason. No bites for a while then one in pretty fast water. Another small fish but instead of a prince he went for a size 18 pink squirrel. I went back to my “good” spot and couldn’t resist giving it another try. Nothing bit until I got to the deeper water at the head of the pool. I got a bite and something very big turned below the water. I saw a huge brown flash and the fight was on. I got him within a few feet and reached for the net when I realized it was a sucker fish. I hate sucker fish. I rarely catch them and I refuse to let even my net touch one. I grabbed my line and removed the barbless hook easily from its soft mouth. Final score: me 2 trout 0 sucker fish 2 (sucker fish count double since you have to be doing something wrong to catch the wrong species). Net score a big fat zero…

Friday, September 4, 2009

Reels or rims?

I mainly fish for trout on small streams where the average sized fish would be 10-12 inches. If a trout takes out enough line to reach the line on my reel it would be in the 15-18” range and pretty rare. It has happened but not often. I believe this is a fairly common situation for most fly fisherman, which would make the fly reel essentially a receptacle for holding line not in use. In fact, I rather enjoy bringing a fish in by pulling line instead of reeling. I love the feel of line zipping though my fingers when a trout first takes off. Knowing I barely use my reel at all I still, for some unexplained reason want a nice fly reel. Maybe a Bauer or Abel or OOO- a Tibor. All of which cost upwards of five hundred bucks and that is with just one spool. Here are the only reasons I can come up with for why fly fisherman will pay more for a reel than they spent on waders, fly boxes, sunglasses and a decent hat combined. (Notice that the function of all of the items listed above will actually be used on every fishing trip)

One word- Performance

The delusion “you never know when you are going to hook into a monster 5 pounder and that super fine cork disc drag and aerospace grade Teflon sealed bearings are going to save you” Yeah, and that 6x won’t snap like a Winston in a car door. The miniscule noticeable functional upgrade between the performance of an Abel super 5 and an Orvis CFO is not worth $350 to anyone accept maybe Bill Gates who loses money taking the time to pick up $100 bills. But how would I know I can’t afford either one. I fish a battenkill, which is the technological equivalent of a snoopy reel to most Tibor or Abel owners.


I know him, you know him, he drives a Beemer and has two pairs of Costa del mar sunglasses. When you say “hey, is that an Abel super 5?” he’ll say “yep, I thought it had the best features for what I do.” You’ll think “yeah, those Teflon sealed bearing will come in handy when you are hitting on my wife at the lodge while I’m on the water.”


Freds are people who have all the best gear but have never even seen a trout in person. They will say “they guy at the shop said this is the ONLY reel to own for trout” You’ll think “If the guy at the shop said you needed piss yourself to get rid of the suburb stench in your waders you would probably do that too.”


This is the closest to justification for buying a nice reel as there is. If you take pictures for the cover of Fly Fisherman you probably shouldn’t be toting a medalist but if would get you some street cred though.


This is the category I fit into. Maybe a cross between performance and gangsta but more gangsta. Gangstas love rims and I love reels. If you think about it they are a pretty fair comparison. Rims don’t really improve performance. Tires do, so does fly line. The way I look at it a caddy settin on dub deuces isn’t too far off from a boron II settin on an abel super 5 with a rainbow trout skin candy paint job. They are even starting to chrome out fly reels even though black is far superior for stealth. UHHHH, ckeck out that S4 settin on a Tibor. That’s so gangsta.

Maybe my gangsta desire to own a phat reel is misguided and I could learn a few things from the techies. Most people would not consider me a respectable fly fisherman anyway with my batenkill reel complete with 3 year old SA mastery with a newly acquired sinking tip and bottom of the line Winston. Fact is, I still catch fish every time I go out and I do occasionally lose one but I guarantee its not because I didn’t have aerospace grade reel components. I think that stuff is better left, well, in the air where it may actually be necessary or at least for fighting a marlin.

Keep it reel