Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Between Now and Then

Now is the time of year to check all of your gear for the upcoming season, because nobody likes trying to run to the shop/store for last minute items and fixes.... especially when the fish are in and the bite is hot.

I am going to go over some things I like to do before it's "too late." No particular order however.

Exterior Gear
Waders - Time to check them for leaks and make any necessary repairs. Check them like a tire. With the help from my dad, we use a shop vac and blow air into waders that are turned inside out. Spray an extra soapy solution on the seams or any problem areas and look for small bubbles. Make note of the area and dry the waders. Apply your choice of glue with a plastic knife or a pospicle stick to spread it evenly. For larger tears or punctures, follow the manufacturers instructions.

Wading Boots and Cleats - Make sure they are in good shape and if some mending is required, head to a local shoe and boot repair store for a fairly cheap fix. Make sure the studs/cleats are not rounded or smooth and replace as necessary.

Breathable Rain Jacket - Check for any tears or rips and repair as necessary. I like to clean my jacket by hand with a mild, un-scented dishwashing soap and let it air dry after rinsing. I am not a big fan of using aftermarket sprays for waterproofing. They work, but not long enough in my opinion.

Fishing Bag, Vest, or Sling Pack - I like to empty everything out of my fishing bag to see what I need to replace and also vacuum out any loose items that always seem to collect in the bottom. Again, check all seams and zippers etc. to make sure everything is in working order.

Gloves and Hats - Usually not a problem, but sometimes a quick fix can be made with a sewing kit.

Wading Staff - Make sure it is not bent too bad and will hold up to another season of punishment.

Net - Check for any holes and repair as necessary.

Glasses - Check the frame and lenses for any cracks. Make sure the screw in the hinges are tight as well.

Rods - Look over your rods carefully. Check the blank and ferrules for nicks or any signs of failure that could happen later down the road. Inspect the rod wraps for any cracking and make sure the guides are in line and in good shape. Run a cotton swab through your guides to check for burrs that may damage your fly line. Make sure the reel seat is functioning properly and clean out the threads if they are dirty. Now is a good time to clean the cork grip as well. Soapy water, a wrag, and some elbow grease should do the trick.

Reels - Take all the line and backing off and check everything possible. Make sure working parts are moving properly and are lubed with the appropriate substance. Since there are various types of drag systems, follow your owners manual accordingly or take it in to the shop and have a professional look it over. Run a cotton swab over the line guard and any parts the line may come into contact with and check for burrs that could damage your line.

Backing - I like to change my backing every two years. When I don't change it, I make sure to re-tie my "backing to fly line" knot. Usually an albright knot coated with aquaseal or pliobond.

Fly Line - Hopefully you've taken care of it and cleaned it a few times during the last season. If not now is the time for a good cleaning. Check the welded loops at both ends to make sure they are not cracking. If the lines don't have welded loops verify the loop system is intact and repair or replace as necessary. Lately I have been going with braided loops nail knotted to the line and covered with aquaseal or pliobond.

Tippets, Leaders, and Sinktips - Pull some tippet out of your spools from last year and pull hard on it. If it breaks, trash it, and replace. If it holds you should be good to go. I like to replace any and all leaders regardless if they are good or not. Check your sinktips for any damage and make sure the loops at both ends are in good shape. Now is a good time to make sure they are labelled properly in your wallet so no time is wasted on stream.

Flies - Clean out your fly boxes and don't keep any flies that are severely rusted. Check them all for sharpness and crush the barbs as necessary. Make note of any flies that will need to be replaced. Now is a good time to re-organize your flies so they can be easily found while on stream. Make sure the stinger line on your stinger flies is in good shape too. Check your supply of tube fly hooks as well.

Other Goodies - Check your supply of split shot, line indicators, back up braided loops. I like to keep a tube of loon uv glue in my bag for onstream fixes. I also keep a small knife with me in case my feet get tangled in old line in the river or on the trail. Make sure it is sharp, it will come in handy. A set of strong pliers is always good to have. I like to have a small towel in my bag for wet hands after landing fish. Gotta have baby whipes are perfect! Make sure you have your license as well!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Childers - Pryce Tannat Version

Hook: Dave McNeese Blue Heron - size 2
Tip: Small oval tinsel - silver
Tag: Pale Blue Floss
Tail: GP Topping and Indian Crow (Orange Weaver is shown)
Butt: Ostrich - black
Body: Godlen Yellow Floss, Orange and Fiery Brown Seals fur in equal sections
Ribs: Flat Silver Tinsel and twist (Silver Lace is shown)
Hackle: Badger Hackle - Lemon Yellow (Yellow grizzly hackle is shown)
Throat: GP breast feather followed by Widgeon
Wings: A pair of GP breast feathers back to back; married strands of scarlet, blue, orange, and yellow swan (turkey is shown), bustard, Florican (left out), GP tail, cinnamon Turkey, mottled grey Turkey tail
Sides: Barred summer duck strips
Cheeks: Blue Chatterer (asian kingfisher is shown)
Topping: GP Crest
Horns: Blue and Yellow Macaw

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Steelhead are in.........

My head that is!! I am usually thinking about them year round, but during this time of year, the thoughts seem to become stronger since "the season" isn't too far away. Tying flies is one way I try to harness those thoughts and give them some sort of direction.

I like to look at my flies from the last season to bring back memories and to also give me an idea of what I need to tie for the upcoming season. Some flies are solid producers, while others just didn't seem to work. Others have worked before but for some reason didn't work last season. Why? I like to think it was my fault for not being in touch with my surroundings and not reading the signs. I sure don't think the steelhead, the river, or the weather did anything wrong.

Some flies maintain a spot in the lineup while others are removed, but are not forgotten ....their time hasn't come yet. This frees up some space in the box and gives me a reason to tie "new" flies. Sometimes that "new" fly is a pattern that has been around for 75yrs or more, but I haven't tied it yet. "New" may also mean learning a different style or learning to apply a material in a specific manner. Basically what I am getting at is that many a person has come before me and probably already did this before, so it is really not "new" or "innovative"......just different to me. A breath of fresh air so to speak.

This season I plan to tie more married wings and mixed wings for steelhead fishing. Yeah, yeah.....I'm crazy....why would I take that amount of time to do such a thing? If they worked in the past, they have to work now. The time spent doesn't bother me since time doesn't exist when my mind is focused on the fly at hand. To not fish the fly would be stopping the journey short. If it makes you feel better, I do plan on using substitue materials. I'll save the good stuff for show flies.

I have already fished and have had success with various Spey and Dee flies. Some follow the original recipe while others have the colors changed to my liking. I plan to do the same thing with married wings and mixed wings. Just knowing that I will be showing the steelhead something different than all the typical stuff, gives me loads of confidence. Hopefully I will be able to stay the course, and not fall back and tie on "old reliable."

Some of the patterns I plan on tying are the Childers (almost finished), Butcher, a few Doctors, Black Dog, Green Highlander, Drake Wing, Ghost Fly, and some other are on the list as well.