Friday, December 4, 2009

Tying leaders and throwing beer cans

Could anything in fly fishing be more boring or frustrating than tying leaders? First of all, how much do tapered leaders cost? $4? In the past I went through my share of leaders and even now that I don’t wind knot a leader to hell in 10 minutes I still manage to lose a new one after only one cast every once in a while. This is enough to make the average fly fisherman consider tying their own leaders. Honestly, most of my leaders last, at least, two trips. Maybe more if I’m fishing a lot of dry flies. Lets also be honest about how much tying your own cost. Tying you own leaders save money like tying your own flies saves money. Theoretically it is cheaper to tie your own but honestly are you going to tie a hundred leaders anytime soon? Lets add up the cost of a wolly bugger first.
Hooks: $5.25
Thread: $1.50
Bead heads: $4.50
Lead free wire: $2
Marabou: $4
Chenille: $4
Saddle hackle: $5 Minimum
Silver wire: $2
That’s $28 if you only want to tie one color, one size and you have all the tools

At $1.50 a fly (like yours will be as good as the $1.50 flies….maybe $.75 flies) So after the 19th size 10 black wooly bugger those babies are free. I imagine leader tying stuff is cheaper but you will still want like 6 or 7 different line sizes right?
Second of all, can anyone actually tie a blood or Albright knot? The blood knot is like tying two cinch knots to one another. Really? How do you hold the other one in place while tying the second? I give up.

I am writing this because my Dad wants a leader tying kit for Christmas. Next thing you know he will want to make his own wood trout net. I find this funny because I initially wanted to do both of those things. I looked into the whole leader tying stuff and found that I didn’t care if the but section was 25 or 27% of the leader. I like to fish and I’ll leave the leader tech up to the pros. If the package says its good for nymphs that’s good enough for me. I don’t need to know the leader is 35% taper 25% butt and the rest tippet. I’ll focus on tying flies. I only need one hobby that makes me throw beer cans against the wall.

Brooks on hoppers

Is any fish in the world prettier than a wild brook trout? For those of you who actually have an opinion, that was a rhetorical question. I found a jewel of a stream in Wisconsin that has a robust and lightly fished population of native brook trout. I recently headed out there in September and I learned three things: You can’t cast a size 8 Joe’s hopper with a 6’6” 3wt fiberglass rod, always bring a backup rod in case of wind or unforeseen pattern production, and brook trout will smack a hopper like nothing I have ever seen.

I strung up my beautiful little fiberglass 3 wt I built this year and tied on a #16 royal wulff that I knew would take fish. I walked down to the creek and must have scared about a thousand hoppers from the bushes and sent them scattering about the trail. I got down to the creek and one was struggling in the water to reach the shore, them BAM! A brook trout came out from an undercut bank and took that bad boy down. I immediately tied on a Joe’s hopper and cast at the same bank. My glass rod feels like casting a wet noodle but with a small dry fly it feels easy to cast. You can feel the loading and unloading like nothing else. The casting rhythm is slowed way down so accuracy is increased due to the extra time to think about what you are doing. With a slight breeze and a wind resistant fly my first cast ended up high and dry 5 FEET from the water. Hmm, this might be tricky. Okay, I know, when I golf I aim wide left because I will slice the ball right on to the fairway. Aim, right and the fly will land on the water. Here we go, nope, wind died, five feet on the other side of the bank. Three more casts and I put that bastard on the water. BAM! A brook nailed it, he was small with a crimson adorned belly and bright blue halos surrounding bright red spots. His vermiculated back was bright green and intensely contrasting. Sometimes, brooks are very dark with muted colors due to silt build up and a leaf filled, degraded habitat. These fish live in a light bottomed, gravel filled stream perfect for spawning and ideal for beautiful colors.

I realized that fiberglass might be a little difficult but luckily I did have my fast action 3 wt so the day was not lost. I headed back down to the next pool up and six fish rose and took my hopper in a plunge pool in 10 minutes. At this point I was at about 10 casts and 7 fish, a good day to say the least. I fished up stream because there was actually one other person there, down stream. I found fish in every likely spot and rarely waited more than a half second for a strike. I brought my good camera in hope that I could capture the brilliant colors of these magnificent fish. I had it tucked in my chest pack so I could easily get to it with one hand and snap a few pictures before I let the fish go. I got to a large pool with hundreds of fish pushed down on the bottom. I fished the water where the current came into the pool and caught one right away. The next cast I wanted to take a picture of the fly being eaten so I cast the line out and looked down to get my camera. My fly must have sunk in the current because when I looked up it was gone, no, wait, WOW that is a big fish on. I got him in and it was by far the biggest brook trout I have ever caught. I got a few pictures of him in the water and a few out. The weird thing is there were no blue and red spots.

I moved on after that and caught a few more decent sized fish and got some really good pictures. Every new pool a trout slammed my fly in about a millisecond. I had only 3 hours to fish but I must have caught 30 fish. Time to go, but what a great way to end the season. I tell my friends who fish with me about days like this and I’m sure they don’t believe me, especially when they got skunked that day and I caught one. It does happen and it is worth all the bad days combined.
Tight lines!