30 July, 2010


One of the things I love about fly fishing is the almost-instant connections it makes. These transcend education, work, socioeconomic status, what you drive, what you wear...

Today I moderated a branding exploration for a client. One of their senior executives is known for being a particularly hard-nosed sort. Somehow it came up that we both fly fish, and instantly we had some common ground. I can't count the number of times that's happened. For allegedly being second only to golfers for snobbery, fly folks are always so approachable. And there's so much ground to cover. Where do you fish? For what? What gear do you prefer? Do you tie your own?

This particular fisherman did teach me a pretty cool phrase, "The seduction of trout..." that I do believe I'll be borrowing (crediting him, of course). Meanwhile, I'm bound for a long weekend of camping and tossing some hoppers and stripping streamers on the PM.


28 July, 2010

Made in USA?

Segment on talk radio today on American-made products set me to thinking. One caller argued that people won't pay more for American-made goods and services. In the Wal-Mart era, I suppose there's some truth to that. Plus you could argue that it's a global economy and we need to learn how to play to survive in the New World Order -- a line of logic that inherently makes sense to me. Plus, some products just AREN'T made in America anymore. Shopped for a TV lately?

But, let's simplify, in many cases you have do have a choice - one where products are comparable and pricing is less than a 25% differential. Take for example entry-level fly rods. A Scott A3 will set you back $335 at list. And, it's 100% made in Colorado. By contrast, the performance-comparable Sage Flight is made overseas. At $280 that's a difference of only $55. Would you pay that difference? I think I would -- although I'm pretty biased toward the Scott brand, which is a different discussion. I feel the same about Ross Reels. Part of the appeal for me, in addition to rock-solid construction is that all of the Ross Reels brand (Note: NOT Ross Worldwide - that's from the Pacific Rim) products are made in the U.S.

Lest you think I'm a redneck with an "out of work yet..." bumper sticker, I do realize the value of the global economy. My CZ 452 rifle is a good example. It's Czech made and benefits from low labor costs. And it's a wonderfully well-made gun at a surprising price. I'd readily put it up against the Browning T-Bolt (made in either Utah or Montreal these days) at twice the price.

I have no clear-cut answers on this issue (I used to have Jeep that was made in Detroit, but part of a company owned by Germans...) however, when it's feasible, there are advantages to supporting companies who manufacture in America. In my opinion, that's a worthwhile investment.


27 July, 2010


Taurus .22 revolver came back last week, as mentioned previously. I was eager to get it out for a trial run. Hot, sticky, rainy weekend weather made Saturday perfect for that. The gunsmith's notes had the problem as "jams" and the fix as "adjustment" so no real clue what was up.

The verdict? Perfect. Cycled smoothly with several types of ammo, no jam-ups between rounds in both single- and double-action shooting. Kudos for the Taurus lifetime warranty!

Now that the gun works properly I can start evaluating how it performs. Fortunately, I have a great benchmark -- my Browning Buckmark. My Buckmark is a truly wonderful gun to shoot. I'm continually amazed at how accurate it is at distances up to 25 yards. The Taurus isn't quite as accurate, but I think that has more to do with shooting a revolver versus a semi-auto than the gun itself. In my previous experiences with revolvers, I've had some issues with accuracy. This is part of the reason I wanted this cool little gun, so I could learn to shoot a revolver.

My only complaint is the grip's a little small. But I think a Hogue or Pachmyr slip-on oversleeve should do the trick, so one will be ordered, soon.

Best story of the day was the shooter a couple of lanes over. As he was packing up, he noticed I was shooting the Taurus. He asked, "Hey, do you find that thing jams up often?" My answer, "I used to, until today...". I gave him the details and sounds like he'll be shipping it back for service.

More reports to come as I figure out how to shoot this thing!


26 July, 2010

A Jump on the Season

This weekend I started to tie up some egg flies for the upcoming Fall run. Egg flies are the one area where the economics of fly tying are in your favor. Materials are cheap, and the nature of steelhead territory means you lose lots of them. Plus, you can crank 'em out pretty fast. And, it's a nice thing to with a bit of weekend downtime.

As I suspected, once I found my groove, both my speed and quality increased. But the best part is being able to tie exactly the sizes and colors you use most. For the PM, with its clear waters and wary fish, I use a lot of subtle colors like cheese, peach, white, etc. and tie them in smaller sizes. I noticed the Manistee river guides use bigger patterns and bolder colors as the water has more stain. Sometimes my fave eggs can be hard to find in shops, so it's nice to be able to just bang out a couple dozen to fill the fly box. Another benefit  is hook quality. The good shops use good hooks, but those flies might be as much as $2 each -- not good when you're just going to lose a half dozen in a day anyway. With tying my own, I can buy top-quality Daiichi hooks for less than 20 cents each.

Also started to experiment with nuke eggs. Found that the McFly foam I usually use doesn't really work for that. I had one color of standard yarn and that worked much better. After that discovery, plus using up all my hooks, it's time to order some supplies tonight. Goal is to a boxful tied up before Labor Day.

No river antics this weekend. Strong storms throughout Michigan have all the streamflows off the charts. Perhaps in the next few days things will settle down so I can enjoy the Hex on the Huron, or maybe go float some hoppers in the PM.


23 July, 2010

Global Climate Change & Reality

I'm amazed at the Beck/Limbaugh conservative types who want to propose that global climate change is a farce. I think they hide under the mantle of global "warming" which is clearly not the case everywhere. But look around the country at the WEIRD weather patterns that are almost everywhere.

While Michigan was having a virtually snowless year, I had clients in the Dallas area get 6" of snow several times this Winter. The Wasatch Range in Utah got 6' of snow (yes, that's FEET) in the first two weeks of April this Spring. Fast forward to the Michigan Summer and the odd weather. Hex hatches in Northern MI rivers at Memorial Day? That's a month ahead of normal. Spring steelhead season was over before it even arrived due to the fact the Winter vanished virtually overnight. Let's not even talk about Michigan's ski season this year. Yet the previous two years were ridiculously good.

So, look around you -- I think you'd have to be insane to argue that global climate change is occurring.  


22 July, 2010

Serenity Now

If you're not familiar with the Ann Arbor Art Fair, let's just say it's a zoo. The town swells with a half million extra people, streets are closed, and its just general chaos. But I found the perfect getawa y just minutes from home - a little quality time on the Huron River.

Heard rumors the hex hatch is rolling and wanted to beat the heat and escape the crowds last night, so off I go. As usual 1-2 others at my secret spot (drove past a few others first -- all fairly crowded). Sadly, no hex and no fish, but a nice evening.

The Huron is a real treat -- often you're just a few miles from civilization, but in many stretches it feels like an up-North river. My highlight was fishing next to a feeding heron. We were probably just 50 feet apart. I wasn't disturbing him, nor he me. We probably did this for 15-20 minutes before the heron moved along (he wasn't getting anything either!).

Nice way to relax at the end of a hectic day, during a hectic week. If storms hold off, may just need to return tonight!


21 July, 2010

Warranty Service Props

Have to give props to Taurus Firearms for their warranty service. Had to send in my .22 revolver, due to jamming/action issues. Nice online portal to check status, regular communications, and fast turnaround. Most surprising part was that they returned my gun to me via FedEx overnight -- I certainly didn't need it back THAT fast! I looked on the package and that overnight service cost $28.

All of this leaves me with a VERY positive impression. Taurus' lifetime warranty was very appealing initially, but now that I've experienced it, I'm even more impressed. And all this for a well-made handgun that sold for a little over $300. Nice job, Taurus!

Now, let's see how it shoots...


20 July, 2010


Picked up my new (to me) Ross Momentum LT V reel yesterday, lined up with 10 wt. Rio Steelhead/Atlantic Salmon line. This will be the indy line for my TFO Deer Creek switch rod this season. Can't WAIT! Now have Skagit line on order -- 475 grain Rio Skagit Short. Run with a 5-foot cheater, I should be ready to swing flies with effortless Skagit casts this Fall.

Momentum LT joins the older style Momentum I already one (Skagit line's going on that one). These things are amazing machines. Built rock-solid, and with the precision of a Swiss watch. I don't even pretend to understand what's going on inside the carbon/Rulon drag system. But, it's got brute stopping force, coupled with fine tuned adjustability to get that drag setting JUST right for a big, angry steelhead. In my day job, I get exposed to a lot of precision machining (ever seen the inner workings of a plastic injection mold?) but the level of fit, finish, and precision on these beasts amazes me.

I've been fortunate to find my Momentums at very good prices. But even at full-freight, I'd say they're worth every penny. Of course, maybe the first time I fish a Hatch or the new Orvis Mirage, maybe I'll change that opinion?

Chromers are coming. I've heard reports of early Kings in the tribs. Only a matter of time. Then it's Game On!


16 July, 2010

Short & Sweet

Was doing a little research on the Michigan gubernatorial candidates yesterday and ran across Rick Snyder's white paper on Asian Carp and other invasive species. I already felt he was a solid candidate, but this definitely solidified my opinion - the single best position I've read on the issue. Take a few minutes and give it a read.


15 July, 2010

Swing for the Fences

Very excited to be making progress on getting my TFO Deer Creek switch rod set-up. Pretty much have the standard fly line rig ready. Up next is a Skagit line set-up for swinging flies. The more I think about it, the more I'm looking forward to trying this technique out more.

Swinging seems best suited to wide-open spaces where you need to cover a lot of water efficiently. I first heard of it during a presentation by Kevin Feenstra, likely one of the top guides working the Muskegon River (and a genuinely super-nice guy). At that time, I had WAY more pressing basics to master, so it sort of fell to the wayside. But now that I've got solid skills in the fundamentals, I'm very intrigued by this technique.

Doesn't seem like the tight-and-twisty Pere Marquette requires more than a standard indy rig (though I might do some two-handing with a standard floating line). However, I think this approach could be solid on the bigger steelhead rivers like the Manistee, Manistique, and could even FINALLY get me to go check out the Muskegon.

But for now, I'm in the land of considering configurations -- regular or short Skagit? Cheater section? Sink tip section length and grain rating? Fortunately, I have access to some solid advice that should help me figure out what's right for this rig.

I've long been intrigued with the beauty of two-handed Spey and Skagit casting. After a little taste with some borrowed gear, I'm eager for the coming steelhead season!


13 July, 2010

Ross Rules

My Ross addiction continues. Current inventory has grown to include:
  • One  Momentum V for steelhead indicator fishing with a second used one likely on the horizon for swinging flies on the switch rod.
  • Three CLA's - two CLA III's (one for floating lines, another with 200 gr. sink tip) and a CLA 1.5 for use on my 3/4 wt. dry rigs.
  • Two Flystarts - small and medium size for back-up rigs
I am discovering that for me, spare spools end up being kind of pointless. My 6 weight trout/smallmouth rigs are a perfect example. I originally bought a spare spool for my CLA III to use with sink tips. After consideration, I decided that being able to just have one floating and one sinking rig ready to rock just makes more sense. Fortunately, I was able to return the CLA spool and buy a full reel. Now that reel will reside on my 5/6 Ross Essence back-up rod. Great for walk-in spots. Take both rods, fish dries or nymphs first, then rip n' strip some streamers to bat clean-up. PERFECT!


12 July, 2010

Warranty Service Required

Curious that both of my .22 handguns required a trip in for warranty service shortly after puchase. First was my Browning Buckmark semi-auto. Shortly after purchase is started regularly experiencing stovepipe jams. Initially it was with low-cost ammo, but very quickly it started happening with most ammo. A full tear-down, clean, and re-lube didn't help. So, back to Browning it goes. A couple of weeks later, it's back with no information on what they fixed. But, fix it they did. Cycles like a champ with most any ammo

Late last year, I purchased a Taurus 94 .22 wheelgun. After a couple of times out I'm noticing some lock-up between rounds when shooting double-action. Then it starts happening in single-action; can't even cock the hammer. Fortunately, Taurus has an amazing lifetime warranty, so back it goes. Still awaiting its completion, but hope this fixes the issue, as I do think I'm going to like this gun. Nice barrel length, target sights. May need a bit heavier grip as it's a bit small for my hands.

Of course, this makes me want one of the new Sig's (P220, 226 or 229) in .22. Buckmark's nice, but many plastic internals. Not so in a Sig. But, I think with warranty work completed, all will be well.


08 July, 2010

Chrome, Chrome on the Brain...

It's in the 90's and super-humid in Michigan lately. Yet I'm continually thinking about standing in an icy river with an 8-weight fly rod watching an indicator bob down the river. Waiting for that tug-THUMP that signals the arrival of a hungry steelhead.

This starts with the gear. While I'm pretty well equipped for a wide range of styles, I'm doing some shuffling to add another to my bag of tricks this season.

Last Spring I added a TFO Deer Creek switch rod in 11'6" to my quiver. Thanks to cooperative and knowledgeable guide Jed Litwiller, I was able to borrow a reel with a Skagit line and get some coaching on casting. Wow. Minimal effort, maximum coverage.

So this sets a chain of events into motion. Need to pick up a second spool for both my Orvis BLA V and my Ross Momentum V. Orvis will become the single-hand rod reel with floating line on one spool and chuck-and-duck (not my preferred method, but sometimes the only choice) on the other. Momentum will be dedicated to switch rod with heavier Rio Atlantic Salmon/Steelhead line on one spool. Second spool will get a Skagit line for swinging flies. My early research suggests a Rio Skagit line, but this is a complex equation of grain weights, sink tip lengths and more. Fortunately, friend, guide, and fly shop guru Mike Schultz can help me figure that one out.

With that, the program is complete. I'll be able to fish single- and two-handed indicators, two-handed swinging, chuck-and-duck, and (gasp!) centerpin. This enables me to switch up my game to the waters, conditions, and my mood. 

Meanwhile, time for some smallmouth action on the Huron,and maybe a trek North to the cooler waters for a few trout!


07 July, 2010

More Bike Love

Got the mountain bike out last night for a little trail riding. Much like the road bike, I love this ride! And again, I think it's because I customized a bike that was exactly what I wanted. I like to ride narrow, twisty singletrack. Not a huge fan of climbing monster hills. And, I like to keep things simple. So a single-speed 29er is PERFECT! With the possible exception of the head-scratching looks I get when I tell folks it only has one gear.

This bike's even more custom than the road bike. What started as a used 2006 SE BMF purchased from Craigslist, has been really transformed. I think this bike was used by the prior owner as a dirt jumper, so the wheels were pretty thrashed. A quick visit to Steve Sauter at Great Lakes Cycle got me rollin' on some new hoops -- Mavic TN719 rims, black DT spokes, kept the stock front Formula hub and a White Industries ENO Eccentric in the back to enable chain tensioning.

Always wanted discs, and the SE had mounts, so some Avid BB7's replaced the stock rim brakes. Now I have great power and modulation, and more freedom from mud issues. Plus, discs just look cool. Yes, that's silly, but it's my bike...

Fugly SE saddle was swapped out for a WTB Laser I had in my parts pile. Stock 41-16 gearing was ridiculous for anything but sidewalks. So a 31t Graveyard front sprocket (donated by a BMX friend who had it in his parts pile), 18t White Industries freewheel and Wipperman s/s chain took care of driveline needs. And finally, the stock generic pedals got swapped for some Sun Ringle magnesium ones with super-smoooooth sealed bearings. Maybe the best upgrade was some 5.10 Impact Low shoes. Comfy and they stick like GLUE! I'm just not up for clipless pedals on a mt. bike, so this was a nice compromise.

The completed ride climbs like a goat, tracks through corners like it's on rails, and rolls over logs, rocks and other obstacles with incredible ease. The 29" wheels took some getting used to (big wheels + big feet = opportunities for interferences if you're not paying attention) but the way the gobble up terrain makes it worthwhile. And the Sauterbuilt wheels are significantly stronger then anything stock -- 29er wheels are notoriously less strong, due to their larger size.

What's next? My guess will be Profile cranks. These BMX-designed cranks offer incredible precision and indestructible performance. But I'm holding off, if possible. Cool ride, and I'm glad I took the time to build it up to suit ME. BTW, at right is the before picture. First thing to go? The fustercluck of miscellaneous stickers!


02 July, 2010

Friggin' Bureacrats

This just makes me flat-ass mad. Behavior like this is what fuels movements like the Tea Party. The bigger the entity, especially in government, the dumber they seem to be. And when you put more than one government entity, it only multiplies. Yet the Obama administration seems to be throwing more government at us. And big government is SO effective -- think BP, Katrina, and a wealth of other examples.

Have we learned nothing from disastrous invasive species? Lampreys, zebra mussels, and more?

Even the economic case is a slam dunk. Illinois squeals about the "devastation of an industry". Most accounts peg the shipping impact at $80-100 million annually. While the Great Lakes fishery is a $7 BILLION annual business. That's billion, with a capital B -- over 10x.

So let's stop pushing for more studies. Close the locks, shut off the physical possibility. Then study all you want. What happens when you put a bunch of overeducated bureaucrats in a room? Nothing, and that's a problem just now.


01 July, 2010


I know I've plugged this one before, but if you haven't seen the Danny MacAskill street riding video, watch it now. And if you've watched it before, do it again. This just never fails to blow me away. Doesn't hurt that its set to one of my favorite pieces of music. This guy is just simply amazing.