Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More On The Simms Wading Staff

The good folks at Simms just shot me an email today about the wading staff I recently returned. They say it is unrepairable and they will replace the faulty one. As you may recall (see 9/12/08 blog entry), this was the second staff to go down in flames. I have heard a lot of negative stories about this Simms product. On a more positive note, Simms makes good waders. I love my G3s.

Newsflash!! The Simms Wading Staff is not reliable for wading safely.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fran Betters And The Ausable Haystack

I wrote this article last Spring for Backcasts, the bimonthly newsletter of the Northeast Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers (http://www.fffnec.org/). Just reminiscing about the fishing season and thought I would share this with you.

There is no one who knows more about fly tying and fly fishing on the Ausable River than Fran Betters. My first stop, on a recent trip to the Adirondack region, was at Fran’s store where I found him, as usual, tying flies. Fran seemed quite happy to be greeting customers, answering questions, giving advice, suggesting places and patterns to fish and generally being the sage of Wilmington, New York and the Ausable River.

I asked what flies he recommended for the day and Fran told me that I needed only four flies to be successful. He handed me a small plastic cup with four little treasures waiting patiently to begin the day. And what a day it was. The sky was a mile-high, cloudless blue. The air was clear, crisp, breezy and a perfect 72 degrees. The leaves in the forest were opening up in dozens of shades of spring green. A finer day for fly fishing could not possibly exist. After gearing up I set out into the woods to walk far from the other anglers, as I wanted this day all to myself. I found a place to begin fishing, but first I sat on a mossy, cool boulder and watched and listened as the river tumbled past. A while later I opened the plastic cup and there, on top, sat the fly of the day. It was a Haystack.

The Ausable Haystack has been around since 1949 and it has been a consistent fish-producer at every turn. But why? Because it is a simple fly. Two materials are used: deer hair and muskrat fur. That’s it. About as close to nature as you can get. It is a simple fly that rides well in the water. It looks like the silhouette of an emerging mayfly as it sits in the surface film. It might also look like a spinner drifting down the river. It could be a caddis riding the flume. It is one tough customer. The fly floats through the rough water and still comes out as a fish catcher. The natural animal hair reflects light beautifully and has coloration that can’t be beaten. There are several vital qualities to a good fly. First, it should have iridescence and translucency. Look at the Haystack as light filters through the deer hair of the tail and wing and the dubbed body. Sure, the fly does not actually imitate any single insect, but it suggests so many.

What else makes a good fly? Fran Betters thinks that it also should be usable in different color tones and shades. He likes having a lighter shade and darker shade version and chooses the one that fits the circumstances. Finally, as Fran says, the fly should have good skittering ability. This will draw strikes, but will also allow you to move the fly into position in the feeding lanes.

As it turned out I only needed one perfect fly for my perfect day of fly fishing—the Haystack. The day was filled with beauty and the inner peace that comes when one is truly in harmony with the natural world.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Think Outside The Box

A piece of advice about fly selection from a fly tyer: Don't get hung up on picking the “right fly.” Despite what the books and magazines say, there usually is no one “right fly” for a given fishing situation.

We always bring a box, or many boxes, of selected flies that we think will be “right” or will work on our outings, but often things do not go as we think they will while fly fishing. So, what is an angler to do about fly selection under these circumstances? Answer: Think outside the box.

Let me give you a few examples of flexibility in fly selection from a recent weekend of fishing. I was at a lake that I have been fishing for several years. I knew what patterns have worked over the years and the fish have been very consistent in taking certain flies at certain times of the year. I was all ready to fish last weekend and tied on the usual suspects to catch a few fish. Nearly every cast came up empty. I caught one fish, but certainly not the numbers that I had grown accustomed to expect on this lake. I usually fished a small yellow Clouser Minnow with great success on the rock bass, but now nothing. The bass were sipping and poking their noses through the surface of the water. My mind immediately went to a dry fly. I switched to a floating line and a humpy. Bang! The rock bass were heavily onto the floater. Would I have ever used a dry fly to catch these rock bass before? No, but in order to bring fish to the net I had to be flexible.

The northern pike hanging out in the lily pads in this lake were the same story. No takes on traditional pike flies. What is an angler to do? Why not tye on a salmon fly? No pike were biting the usual way, so I decided to go the for the unusual. I used the super secret salmon slayer, a heavily-weighted, white marabou bait fish imitation. Bang! A decent-sized pike on the fly. This toothy critter was hungry for different cuisine. A few weeks earlier a pike grabbed a rather large, heavy Clouser Minnow. Pike flies were not on the menu that day either.

There is no need to flog the water with patterns that are not producing on a given day. Don't forget to read your water and see what the fish want. Make sure that when putting your fly box together you select a few oddball flies that may seem unlikely or outlandish. Include dries, wets, nymphs and bait fish imitations and a few flies that you think would never work. This makes for a much more satisfying day of fly fishing.

Friday, September 26, 2008

No More Aquatic Hitchhikers On My Boots

The word is out. Simms announced at the Fly-Fishing Retailers Expo in Denver that they will no longer be making felt-soled wading boots as of 2010. This move will help decrease the transportation of invasive aquatic nuisance species. Microorganisms can live on the felt soles of our boots. As we wade in different bodies of water we can bring along aquatic hitchhikers and contaminate waters. That sounds great. I am all for keeping our waters clean and free of invasive species. Now we need a new product that can be sold to ducks, geese and our other animal friends. The animals also have a responsibility to clean up before they move from one body of water to another.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Make That A Trio Of Pike

OK, I don't know what this is all about, but I caught another Pike. This one was about 12 inches and was caught on a black bead head woolly bugger. This is an artist's rendition of the rod-bending moment. Note that my guide and I are sporting some fine fishing apparel.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fishing For Fun

Nice little fish for a Wednesday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More On UNI Products

I just received more information on new UNI Products for 2009. Here is what they have to say:

UNI Products J.G. Cote Inc.
P.O. Box #222
Ste-Melanie QC
Canada JOK 3AO
Telephone: 450-889-8054
Toll-free: 1-877-889-8054
Fax: 450-889-5887
E-mail: info@uniproducts.com

NEW 2009
This new UNI-Stretch Shrimp Pink color was specially developed for the Shrimp Pink flies of Umpqua Feather Merchants. An exclusive offering from UNI Products - the UNI-Stretch
materials is easy to wrap, stays in place and makes excellent underbodies as well. UNI-Stretch is now available in 23 colors!

We’ve also introduced 4 new UNI-Flat Braid colors: Holographic Fuchsia, Green, Holographic Purple and Pearl-Green! UNI-Flat Braid makes outstanding butts, bodies and ribs for large
fl ies. You can also fray it for tailing. UNI-Flat Braid is 0.05” wide, highly reflective, and is now available in 10 colors!

Look to UNI for the best in spooled fly tying materials!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Another Pike!!

Another pike captured on the fly today on the undisclosed lake in southern New Hampshire. The weapon was the super secret salmon slayer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Airflo Sinking Lines

A friend lent me his Airflo light glass fly line to fish. That is one smooth, awesome, slow-sinking line that is a breeze to cast. This is the closest thing to a floating line that a sinking line could ever hope to be. Airflo makes a number of excellent sinking lines and they use some cool technology. Their website is http://www.flylines.com/.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tunes and Tying

Just hanging out tying some flies and listening to some Neil Young tunes. Excellent music for tying in the evening. I am making a bunch of these cool flies to try out on a lake fishing expedition.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meaty Flies At The Canadian Trials

The wading on the River Diable was treacherous. Ironically, the name of the river suggests the conditions. The tea-stained water was raging and large slippery rocks and deep plunge pools made for tricky and scary wading. Hidden in the river, however, were some beautifully-colored brookies and browns. I managed to catch quite a few of both, but netting them was another story. Times like that I wished I had a few extra hands to coordinate the net, manage the rod, guide my wading staff and hang on to the rocks. In the end I managed to get four fish to the net and measured for recording in the competition with about a dozen plus solid hook-ups only to be lost in the whirl. Practice sessions on the river saw nine in the net and a few lost. The difference was the heavy rain that fell between the practice sessions and the competition sessions.

The lake sessions at La Baroux were another story. Three lakes and no fish. In practice I had four, but in the end I was disappointed. I don't really want to complain as the days were gorgeous and fishing is still my favorite pastime. I guess catching is another story.

The fly of the competition was the Olive Bunny Stripper. My teammates Morgan Thorp and Jason Baxter hammered fish on this fast sinking fly that is best fished on a deep sinking line. The retrieve is fast and the fly darts through the water drawing aggressive strikes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

UNI Products

While at the Canadian Fly Fishing Championships awards banquet I sat next to Martin Lepine of UNI Products. I met Martin and his wife Sylvain several years ago while tying at the International Fly Tying Symposium and it was nice to catch up with Martin again and look at some of the new UNI offerings. I will be at this year's International Symposium in November and will have UNI Products samples and information available. They make some UNIque materials. Check out their website at http://www.uniproducts.com/.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Simms Wading Staff

Hey there. What is the story on the Simms Wading Staff? I just broke my second one in 5 months. I got it last winter and the first one broke on about the third fishing outing. The bottom two sections fell off. Just gone. I returned it to Simms and they replaced it. Oh and I had to pay the $10 postage to send it back to them. OK, I got the new one and used it apprehensively about 12 times. That one broke this week while I was fishing up in Quebec. The button that holds the staff together when it is opened would not stay engaged and then later the whole thing kind of just caved. Now I get to pay $10 in shipping again so that they can re-replace the faulty staff. Now, check it out, I am of slight build and not the type to go wading out into risky situations. I do still rely on the staff for balance and to check out my footing ahead. I do not whale on my fishing stuff, but these staffs keep failing. Of course I am now using a solid wooden staff made by Mother Nature, and I would never use the Simms product again in situations in which slipping, falling, crashing or drowning may be involved.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Off To Canada

My car is packed with nets, rods, reels, lines, leaders, waders, boots, flies and all manner of clothing. Aside from all the actual gear for fishing and general needs of living , my car is packed to the brim with fly tying materials, hooks and tools. I am off to fish at the Canadian National Fly Fishing Championships and Conservation Symposium. I will be fishing with Peter Huyghebaert, Sunny Vanderkloof, Jason Baxter and Morgan Thorp for the Vancouver Island team. I am also eager to hear about what has been happening in terms of protecting and preserving our waterways. The Conservation Symposium should be interesting. There certainly will be a lot of fly tying. Can't reveal the flies that we will be using, but I'll update you after the competition. Canada will be selecting their team for the 2009 World Fly Fishing Championships to be held next June in Scotland.