Over the past year I've developed a new appreciation for the pugnacious smallmouth bass. I've had some pretty modest fish put the bend in the rod like a 7-8# steelhead! As such, I can't wait for the release Small Mouth - Big Appetite from my buddy Jon Ray and his guiding cohort Kevin Feenstra. Check out the trailer below!
Coming soon to a Fly Shop near you! Be sure to pick up a copy.
I've found something amazing in fly fishing - it truly is a family. In just a short time, I've made bunches of fishing-related friends. And, I'm continually amazed at how quickly that list grows. I always hear people comment on how hard it is to make "grown-up friends". Not when you fly fish.
It's a secret bond we all share. That we're all basically obesssive idiots. That we all KNOW there's an easier way to accomplish an end (like catch a fish). But, we're all stubborn enough to feel compelled to do it the hard way -- with some dryer lint artfully arranged on a hook.
What's cool is that unlike many other pursuits, with my fly fishing friends, we talk about TONS of other topics. A trip to the local fly shop for a seminar is as much like a cocktail party as it is a class! And the range of people I've met have been incredible from experienced guides and reps, to physicians, a carpenter, corporate executives, a barbershop owner, a publisher, and a whole bunch of folks who work in my profession of marketing. Pretty cool, AND a nice addition to my network of resources.
Thanks everyone! I look forward to years more of friendship!
Mad props to Mike Schultz for introducing me to swinging flies for smallmouth bass! I love swinging with a two-handed rod and this really extends my season. I find spey casting really relaxing and it's a pleasant way to enjoy time on the river when they're not biting. I've now had a chance to get out a few times - even hooked my first carp on the fly!
The 400 grain Skagit head may be a little heavy for a 6 weight, but it casts like a ROCKET! Point and shoot! Only problem is that it goes where you cast it; so get it right. I've got Skagit cheaters on order. As with my other Skagit-lined rods that little bit extra helps me not blow my anchor point as often.
For now, I've been swinging with a sink tip. But with the increased flexibility of a running line/head system, I'll also be adding a Scandi head. My plan is to use this to skate dries as the season progresses.
Too much fun! If you've never swung for smallies, give it a try! Lots of fun.
My more serious pursuit of large trout is a fairly new pheonomenon. I started this whole fly fishing game as steelheader, so the idea of catching a "monster" 10" brookie never appealed. But then I was introduced to the game of chasing big browns.
My turning point moment was last week. While speaking with Jon Ray the night before about possible float destinations, it came down to two. Float #1 was tighter and likely to produce high numbers of small-medium fish. Float #2 was more open with lots of cover and big water - and the opportunity to stick a donkey.
Without hesitation, I picked #2. This was new for me; in the past I'd have always chosen numbers. But maybe I was doing that for confidence-building? And now I'd found that confidence? All I know is that I recognized the potential for a trophy trout day. And I didn't want to miss that chance.
Did I stick that pig? Nope. I'm not ready yet. While I'm quickly gaining the skills, this is advanced fishing that even guides will tell you is the hardest type of fishing they do. I'll get there, but I've got to pay my dues. And I'll have a blast doing it.
P.S. I did turn a 20+ incher. While I whiffed by strip-setting, the adrenaline rush was comparable to the one I feel when a steelhead hits.
Had the good fortune to spend Tuesday floating in pursuit of trophy trout with both Jon Ray and Ed McCoy of Hawkins Flyfishing. We were throwing BIG nasty streamers hunting for the big boys. This is definitely not a game of numbers. It's about being ready when you get your shot at the big leagues.
As Jon told me the night before - a change to put on your helmet, buckle the chinstrap and take on a shot at the title. So, was I ready?
Turns out that while my skills have grown considerably in my first year of streamer fishing, I still have some more work to become proficient. My casting is MONEY -- I can hit the spots I need to, time cadence for opportunities, and not put my streamer into the trees (much). But hooksetting is my nemesis. I have to unlearn trying to keep stripping in favor of swinging to make 'em wear it!
My first fish really didn't commit, so he didn't really count. On the upside, I swung hard. But the second one chased down my streamer, commited to strike - and then peeled of after I finally remembered to hook-set. Meanhwile, Eddie's game is coming on strong with 2 nice browns boated AND a nice size brookie.
So, while I came away without trophies, I did find some enlightenment. But I did learn some great things:
Keep your head down; trout are fast and come from nowhere. When you see them roll and hit, WHACK 'EM!
On a strike, pinch the line, and WHACK 'EM!
Keep the rod tip down and excess line taught.
Don't give up, stay in the game.
Best of all? I had, as quoted by Ed at the start of the float, I had "blood in my eye". I wanted a trophy and I chose smaller numbers over a bunch o dinks. Both guides did remind me that this isn't kindergarten. It's all about putting in the hours. So, I'll keep at it; meanwhile lovei
My friends know me as a die-hard flip-flop wearer. Once it's warm enough that I won't have blue toenails, the flops make their appearance. Of course, as with most things, I'm a gear afficianado. And this extends to the lowly flip-flop. You won't see any $1.99 WalMart specials on this cowboy. Here are a few of my favorites:
Reef Mick Fanning
The original high-performance flop. Awesome heel cushioning, supportive arch (the mark of a superior model), wide comfy straps. I currently have 4 pair of these, one of which I desparately need to just give up on. And, yes, these are the ones with the bottle opener integrated into the sole. One important comment on that last item - take the flop off to use the bottle opener. Trust me on this one...
I don't even know what model they are. Judging from the web site, they don't even exist anymore. Mine look like brand new, despite being at least 5 years old. My only complaint was a too-narrow strap. This seems to have been corrected in the newer models. If durability and comfort are in your prioirities -- Chacos are it.
Simms EbbTide Flip
You knew it was only a matter of time before Simms had a flip of their own. As you would expect of Simms, they rock. Though I've only had them a little while, they're already working on displacing my beloved Reef's. Great arch support, a little ridge the locks (and supports) your toes, and a shock-absorbing soles are among their better qualities. Plus, they match my G4 jacket. How cool is that?
So there you are -- three solid options and just in time for the warmer weather! So get ou there and get some high-performance comfort!
Latest addition to the fishing arsenal is a 6 weight swing rig. I've learned more lately about swinging for smallmouth bass from Mike Schultz - and this coincided with finding a great deal on a TFO Deer Creek 11' switch rod in 6 weight. I really enjoy swinging, so learning that I could extend my swing season on smallies was a very pleasant surprise! And, right in my backyard!
Added a Ross Evolution LT 4 (the Evo is quickly becoming my go-to reel) and lined it up with Scientific Anglers Skagit Extreme Intermediate head and a Floating Shooting Line with Dragon Tail. The guys at Schultz are big on the new Intermediate Skagit Extreme's. Although they only start at 400 grain weight, Mike threw one of the shop's on my Deer Creek, cast it briefly and proclaimed it a rocket ship.
Friday evening I had some time on my hands and beautiful weather, so it was off to the river. Sorry, can't divulge my spot. It's nearly in walking distance to my home and not very heavily fished just now. I'd like to keep it that way. Rumor was its been holding a lot of smallies this time of year.
After a few warm-up casts downstream to get my timing back and get a feel for the new rig, its time to move up into the prime slot. The 400 grain head is a little heavy, but this gives me a huge advantage as it's less impacted by wind, and forces me to slow down my timing. When you hit it even halfway right, KABOOM -- huge distance, little effort. A simple egg-sucking leech is the perfect fly option, I think.
Shortly, my line stops and thumps at the hang down. Hey -- the fish are where they're supposed to be! But something's not right. Smallmouth thump and headshake like my dog when you're playing tug-o-war. This is just THERE and big. It's peeling off line like crazy. I up the drag, get my wits about me and start to put the boots to this fish. Got a NICE bend in the rod and starting gaining inches, and then fee. As the fish comes into sight I realize -- that's no smallie, it's a CARP! And a big one at that. Just as I realize this, WOOSH! Off he goes across the river. I've lost 40 feet in the blink of an eye. Eventually, he tires and I start to gain some advantage.Shortly I have him back in close, when once again he finds another gear and races away from me.
By now, I'm thinking "Dude, you can't have much left, I got you...". Suddenly, Icarus plummeted back to earth - as trumpeted by the sound of "ping"and a suddenly slack line hurtling toward my head. Twenty minutes in and I've already hooked, fought, and lost my first even carp on the fly. On the swing no less!
But, before I tell you the rest of the story, let's digress for a moment...
Back when I first started fly fishing, I wasn't tying. Anything I fished, I bought. And with an affinity for trees, I lost alot of flies. That starts getting expensive. So online I find ReelFlies out of Canada. Cheap flies and they look nicely tied. It's only later that I learn about the importance of quality hooks. Every guide I know has said, "buy good hooks; a few pennies extra is worth it when you have that awesome fish on...".
Turns out they were right. Guess what came flying back my way? Yup, the eye and shank of the hook, with tied fly still intact, and the hook bend and barb GONE. I'll be chucking these leeches and buggers and re-tying my own on Daiichi hooks.
From Hero to Zero; in one quick ping.
Ah well, on the upside, Mike tells me I'm only the second guy he knows who's gotten a carp on the swung presentation this year. Pretty cool!
My paying gig is running a small b-to-b and technology marketing firm. But what I love most is being outdoors -- skiing, cycling, fly fishing, hunting, target shooting, kayaking, or learning some other new pursuit. This blog's all about that sorta' stuff. And more.