"Sometimes, you just need to go downstairs and waggle a rod..." - Scott Hanson

"Write what you know. If you don't know, make it up..." - Scott Hanson

"A dude can't live on just two fly rods alone..." - Scott Hanson

Man, I have some deep thoughts...

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Rod Love: Baby Poop Edition

I really am not trying to brag when I say that a quick estimation of the past 10 years of my life shows that I have changed approximately 4 billion dirty diapers in that time span. Again, I am not trying to brag, I just want you to know that I am well qualified to know the color of baby poop, which is the exact color of this next rod in my Rod Love series, the Cortland Pro-Crest.

Vintage Cortland fiberglass rods are not what you would call high-end rods. But they do have a following in the fiberglass fly rod world. It seems as though the Cortland FR-2000 rods are most peoples' pick of the litter, but I prefer my Pro-Crest 7'6" 5/6wt rod. As soon as I made one cast with it in my yard I knew it was one of the smoothest rods I had ever held. And I don't care if it is the color of baby poop, it's beautiful in my eyes...

Early Pro-Crests came with a metal ferrule. Later on they came with a tip-over-butt fiberglass ferrule, which is what my rod has. Both versions came in the same color scheme, which some people find off-putting. I say who cares what a rod looks like, as long as it can cast!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Rod Love 5: Fine Fenwick Fiberglass

That's a lot of F's for one post title...

That's what happens when I write about one of the sweetest vintage fly rods I own, a first generation Fenwick FF75. Built around 1962 or '63, this FF75 is one of the first fly rods built with the patented "Feralite" ferrule, a tip-over-butt ferrule made out of fiberglass, unlike the metal-ferruled rods that preceded it. Using fiberglass for the ferrule improved the action and brought the weight of the rods down considerably. Fenwick's use of the Feralite ferrule catapulted them into the premier fly rod manufacturer of the time.

Feralite ferrule and gold foil, does it get any cooler?

And their old fly rods are still some of the nicest casting tools ever created. I have cast several of them over the years, and all of them were sweet in their own way. My FF75 is no exception; nice and slow, but not too slow. It delivers a 5wt line right where I want it to every time. Or at least it does when I make a decent cast, which is not actually every time, if I were to be honest for once in my life...

Let's take a look at the old FF75, shall we?

The trademark Fenwick wraps.

Old school gold foil

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Fly Focus: Pink Scud

If you are fishing in a quality trout stream, there is a good chance that some scuds live in it. And, as a general rule, trout love scuds. And who can blame them? They are essentially like little freshwater shrimp, and we all know how good shrimps are, am I right? Oh man, I could eat about 50 plates of shrimp scampi right about now... That's probably why I am 30 pounds overweight...

Mmmmm, doesn't this scud look yummy?

There are a lot of scud patterns out there. My favorite is the tried and true plastic bag version, which I learned about 25 years ago or more. I call it the plastic bag version because a thin strip of a plastic zip-lock style bag is used for the shellback. It's cheap. It looks good. And it's an effective fly. What more could you ask for?

Let's learn how to tie a pink version of this scud pattern, shall we?

Pink Scud Pattern Recipe

Hook: Scud hook in size 12-16
Bead: Black or copper, sized to the hook
Weight: Lead wire
Thread: Orange or pink, 8/0 or smaller
Tail: Pheasant tail fibers
Rib: Copper wire, size small or Brassie
Shellback: Strip of plastic zip-lock style bag
Body: 50/50 mix of pink Ice Dub and pink or orange rabbit fur

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Rod Love #4: Diamondglass

I don't know if I have adequately written this in my past blog posts: I love fiberglass fly rods. I love the way they flex. I love the way they cast. I love their inherent understudy lot in life: not as high-brow as bamboo and not as tech-savvy as graphite. I love the way they load a line. I love the disparaging looks I get from other fly fishers when I talk openly about my love for fiberglass. And I love the fact that my casting stroke doesn't have to have pinpoint accuracy to get them to cast well, even though it does have pinpoint accuracy...

That brings me to yet another post in my Rod Love series. In this one I will rave about my Diamondback Diamondglass 805/3, which holds all of the attributes that I discussed above.

Diamondglass rods, especially the older black rods, have picked up a sort of cult following within the already cult-like world of fiberglass rod aficionados. Made for a few years in the early 2000s, it can be extremely difficult to find somebody who is willing to part with one. And for good reason. They are wonderful casting tools that are smooth yet surprisingly powerful. They don't feel soft and whippy like some glass rods, but they also aren't extra stiff like most graphites. They are some of the best glass rods ever built.

A lot of people believe that the best rod in the Diamondglass lineup was an 8' 4wt. I hope to cast one of those some day, but for now my only Diamondglass is the 8' 5wt. I wanted a high-quality 5wt rod that was packable, and boy did I get one. This thing is so smooth I can't even describe it. Usually I would say it is buttery smooth, but butter doesn't do this Diamondglass justice. Maybe super-pureed liquid butter... However you want to describe it, it's one of the nicest casting rods I have ever owned. And its looks exude class. Kind of like it's wearing the fly rod equivalent of a tuxedo. And the thread wraps are its dark red cumberbund...

Since it's such an attractive fly rod, let's look at some pics, shall we?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Daiwa Reels

I am a Lamson reel guy, but I have also owned a bunch of Daiwa reels over the years, and ya know what? They all have been great reels. My latest one is no exception, even though it's probably older than all of the other Daiwa reels I have owned. It's a Daiwa 730. It's a small click-and-pawl reel from the 1970s, and it works beautifully. It was fashioned as a sort of clone of the Hardy Featherweight, if my research is correct. It doesn't really look like a Featherweight, in my opinion, other than on the insides. The guts of my 730 looks exactly like the guts of a Featherweight, but the outside is quite different. There are less holes on the spool of the Daiwa reel. There is no fancy script writing on the back side of the frame. It's really not that attractive. But who cares?!? It works great, and now I am feverishly looking for another to use as a backup reel for my 4-weight rods.

My new Daiwa 730. Isn't it grand?

Back side.
Its more glamorous Hardy equivalent.

Daiwa is not big in the fly fishing reel world any more, at least in the USA. But if you are looking for a good, low cost reel, try to get your hands on any of their older reels. I am sure you will find you've made a good purchase!
My first nice fly reel, which I bought in 1987. A Daiwa-made System One 456. It still sort of works today!

Same reel with the Daiwa name badge
The 789 version of the System One
And the 789 version of the Daiwa

This and above: A newer Daiwa Lochmor-S 200. Another fine reel.

And the Lochmor 200A, a mid-arbor design.

I thought this old Daiwa glass rod, the VIP 43, was one of the coolest old glass rods I had seen. A beautiful translucent blank, cool thread wraps, a comfortable foam grip. I thought it was so cool! Then I took it out and gave it a test cast. It was rated for a 5 or 6 weight line, but I think it would have been better suited for an 8 or 9. It was so stiff! The closest thing that I have ever come across to the proverbial broom handle. Oh well, I'll just stick with Daiwa reels.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Rod Love the Third: Old School Sage Glass

A couple of days ago I read through a thread on one of my favorite fiberglass fly rod forums, in which people were answering the question "What one rod would you choose if you could only have one rod?" That question got me to thinking about fly rods, specifically my fly rods, and I quickly came up with an answer. It was good that my answer came quickly, because if I had thought about it for much longer I might have changed my mind about 5 or 20 times... The one rod that I own that can handle pretty much any situation I put it in is my beloved Sage 476SFL, a beautiful old school glass rod that is as sweet as can be!

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 40 years, you should know that Sage is probably the leader in technologically advanced graphite fly rods. Their current rods probably are more technologically sound than my smartphone, and anglers across the globe love them. That's all good and fine, but I prefer their older rods, especially their LL series of graphite rods from the early 90s, and their SFL series of fiberglass rods from the 1980s.

That brings me to this edition of Rod Love. My Sage 476SFL is an awesome casting tool. 4-weight rods are probably the perfect trout fishing rod, and my 7'6" Sage glass rod is no exception. It has the finesse to cast a small fly at short distances, yet it has the power to launch streamers and big nymphs on large water. It loads and unloads smoothly, and somehow my fly always ends up right where I want it. Or at least as close as someone with my casting skill can get it... It's not noodly like some other glass rods, and not too stiff like most of the newer graphite stuff. It's pretty much perfect!

It can be hard to find old school Sage glass rods, but I would suggest you keep on the lookout. If you can find one I am sure you will love it. I also have heard rumors that Sage may be coming out with a new line of glass rods...That should be interesting, if it actually happens... As I mentioned earlier, Sage is at the forefront of graphite rod technology. It will be fun to see how they use that technology with fiberglass.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


We are very happy to welcome Ty-Rite as an advertiser here on the ol' blog! Ty-Rite is a Michigan based company that has been helping fishermen tie their hooks and flies onto their line since 1964. An ingenious little device, the Ty-Rite and Ty-Rite Jr. are sure to alleviate the stress of countless numbers of anglers. Click on the Ty-Rite ad over on the right side of the blog to check out all their products. From now through December 21st they are offering free shipping. Tell them you found them on The Riffle!
Welcome Ty-Rite!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Fly Focus: M.E.S. (Mini Egg Sucker)

Three of the Kiddos and I were loitering at our local Hobby Lobby the other day. We were having a great time walking up and down every aisle, checking out all the cool stuff. Every 30 seconds or so one of the aforementioned Kiddos would find something that they thought was extra neat, and say, "Hey, Dad, look at this! Can we get it?!?!" And I would shout my standard reply, "No, I told you we aren't going to buy anything! We're just looking around!" If you ever want a quiet and peaceful visit to Hobby Lobby make sure you don't bring a gaggle of kids with you!
If I don't show the whole name it's not copyright infringement, right?

Eventually we got to the bead aisle, and things started to change. My hard exterior started to melt away, and a cheeriness swept over my entire being. My determination not to spend any money washed away, and I lost all control of my wallet and its contents. My kids seemed to sense that I was losing control, and they peppered me with purchase requests, right and left. In order to not succumb to the pressure, I quickly grabbed one tube of beads and ran towards the checkout, with the kids nipping at my heels. It was a narrow escape, but somehow I made it out to the family truckster with just the one tube of beads, and most of my cash, still in hand. It was something, I tell you what!
The beads in question...
That one tube of beads is pretty cool, though. When I saw it, I immediately thought "Fish eggs!". Each bead is actually two beads in one: a small pink bead inside of a larger, translucent white bed. That combo makes it look like a small trout egg, and we all know that trout like to eat eggs. 
Looks like an egg to me...

I have several ideas for flies using these beads, but so far the only thing I have tied is a small variation of an Egg Sucking Leech, which I am calling the M.E.S., or Mini Egg Sucker. I think it looks pretty good, and plan on trying it out next year on trout everywhere. Here's the recipe:
Mini Egg Sucker

Mini Egg Sucker Pattern Recipe

Hook: Daiichi 1710, size 10-12
Bead: Pink-inside-white glass bead, size 6/0
Weight: Several wraps of lead wire
Tail: Black marabou
Rib: Black wire, small or Brassie size
Body: Black mohair yarn
Hackle: Olive grizzly hen saddle

Sunday, November 18, 2018

New Advertiser: Lund's Fly Shop

I always knew that this blog was big-time, but now it seems more official! We have an actual advertiser, Lund's Fly Shop. If you are here in the Twin Cities/western Wisconsin area, you probably already know about Lund's, but if not, you should get to know them. Located in the beautiful college town of River Falls, Wisconsin, Lund's is a short drive from some of the best trout streams in the region. Walk across Main St. from Lund's and you will find the world-famous Kinnickinnic River. A few miles north are the two branches of the Willow River. A short drive to the east sits the enormously popular Rush River. A handful of lesser known creeks are nearby, as well. And Lund's has everything you need for all of them. Make sure you check out their selection of locally tied flies! Especially the ones tied by some guy named Scott Hanson...

Fly fishing for muskies has gone crazy around here, and Lund's has everything you need if you're into that, too. Pretty much anything you need for fly fishing or fly tying, you can get at Lund's. And we are very excited to have them as an advertiser here on The Riffle! Make sure you click on their ad and check out everything they have for sale. And don't hesitate to contact the owner, Brian, if there's something special you may need.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hooks & Beads and Beads & Hooks

I just checked the Guinness Book of World Records and it turns out I am the most disorganized human in the History of the World. I mean, sure it's fun to be recognized for something, but I guess I thought it would be something more fun than that...

Well, I am trying my darnedest to not be so disorganized, and my trying is starting with my fly tying stuff. Up until now my hook bags and boxes have just been piled in a little nook in the corner of my rolltop fly tying desk. Using that system of storage usually allows me to find the hooks I need, but only after sifting through the entire pile once or twice or twelve times.
How I look after trying to find the right bag of hooks for the past half hour...

My beads have been somewhat more securely stored in the top middle drawer of the rolltop desk, a system which seems like it should be slightly more organized, until you realize that that drawer is also home to all my CDC, tailing materials, Krystal Flash, Flashabou, rubber legs, and miscellaneous other stuff that doesn't have a permanent home. Finding the beads I need can be very tedious, to say the least...

A fictionalized version of how I used to store my beads... Photo by Catrin Johnson
Well, not any more. After seeing a post in one of my Facebook fly tying groups about this very subject, I did some research and came upon an option that seems to be perfect! I don't know who Elizabeth Ward is, but if you type her name into the Search bar on ebay or Amazon, a ton of her bead and other tiny object storage solutions pop up, many of which are perfect for hooks and beads. I acquired two of the larger containers, which hold dozens of tinier containers, and have been transferring my hooks into one, and my beads into another, over the past few nights. The hook box is now full, and I still have a few packs of hooks laying around on my desk. But, never fear, Elizabeth Ward and her storage solutions are to the rescue! I have another box on it's way.
Individual hook box

So far, everything seems perfect! I know where my stuff is. It's easy to find. I can categorize everything so that I don't mistakenly buy duplicates. It's awesome! Too bad Elizabeth Ward doesn't have a way to help me organize the rest of my life!