"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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Strange But Awesome

If you have read some of my earlier blog posts, you probably remember that I am a fan of fiberglass fly rods, and if I had to make a choice, I would probably choose vintage glass rods over modern glass rods, although I say that admitting that I have very little hands-on knowledge of modern rods. Still, in my mind, there is just something really cool about fishing with a fly rod that is 30 years old or older. A lot of those old rods are awesome casting tools, which doesn't hurt.

I recently got a new-to-me vintage glass rod, and it is really cool, but also quite strange. It's made by Daiwa, which is not a brand name that is usually associated with fly rods. I know Daiwa made a lot of great fly reels over the years, but I haven't seen too many quality fly rods made by them. This one was so cool looking that I had to check it out.

It's a Daiwa V.I.P. 43, and it's a 7 footer that is rated for a 5 or 6 weight line. I tried both, and, to me, it feels way better with a 6 weight than a 5 weight. I couldn't get it to load well at all with the 5, but with a 6 it loaded beautifully and laid out 45 feet of line with ease. So, it's a very nice casting tool with the right line, which is part of its awesomeness.

The blank is really cool. It's a nice dark orange, and it's the most translucent blank I have ever seen. Other people talk about old Fenwicks being "glow-sticks", because you can see light shining through them. This Daiwa is so translucent I could almost read a book through it, although that would be silly. Why would anyone read a book through a fly rod when they would have much more fun taking it out and casting it...?

Now to the strange parts of this rod. First of all, it's got a black foam grip. My very first fly rod had a foam grip, and it was terrible. This Daiwa's foam grip is firm and comfortable, and really feels quite nice. The second strange thing is the butt-over-tip ferrule. Other entry-level rods have this type of ferrule, so it's not unheard of, but it's still not something you see every day.

The strangest parts of this rod are the snake guides. They are all the same size! Every other rod I have ever seen have snake guides that get smaller as you work your way from butt to tip, but all the snake guides on this Daiwa are the same, large size. It does allow the line to slide through them easily, but still, it's weird...

I had never seen a Daiwa rod like this before, but since I got mine I have seen two more on ebay in different lengths. If you like strange rods, and can get one at a good price, I would suggest you grab one. If nothing else, at least you could use it to read through,
The Daiwa V.I.P. 43. Look at how translucent that blank is!
I would say it is definitely a 6 instead of a 5...
Some rad thread work!
A very comfortable foam grip
Cool color scheme on the reel seat!

Friday, November 11, 2016

This Is The End

Despite the fact that we are still having one of, if not the, nicest Novembers in the history of Minnesota, it seems as though the nights have finally gotten cold enough to make the bass and bluegills head out to deeper water in my favorite local lake, and they probably won't return until next spring. Which means that the fishing season for me is effectively over. I came to this conclusion on Wednesday afternoon, when I took 10 minutes to walk down to the lake, which had been full of ravenous bluegills on Saturday, and saw a total of zero fish. Actually, that is wrong; I did see one giant carp jump clear out of the water about a hundred yards out from shore, but he was a few inches out of my preferred casting distance, so I won't count him.

Now that the fish are gone and I won't be fishing anymore, I thought it would be fun to look back on the Year That Was, at least as far as my fishing went. I caught a ton of bluegills throughout the year, a few bass, I got out to fish for trout about 6 or 8 times and had fairly good success each time, and I got to cast a bunch of great, old fly rods. What an awesome year! Let's go through some of my favorite photos from the year, shall we?
A nice 'gill on the Wonderod
A nice bass on the Wonderod
My Brother-in-Law's first fish on a fly
The 2nd Annual Twin Cities Glass Cast was a huge success, if you consider 5 guys to be huge...
My favorite trout stream
The kids are not quite as fish crazy as I am, but I am working on that
Went back to my old favorite trout stream for the first time in several years. Had a great time!
A nice brown on my Garcia Americana Beaver Kill rod
Ahh, my Berkley Parametric P-40, possibly the best casting fly rod ever made...
The last fish of the year, a lovely little bluegill on my CGR
Jubilation after slaying a monster
No fish were caught on the last day, but the Curt Gowdy Parametric felt nice as I was fruitlessly flailing away...
A beautiful fall day on my favorite lake!

Friday, November 4, 2016

We've Got Class

This post is pretty much a shameless plug, and I'm OK with that. If you are in the Twin Cities area, or anywhere in Minnesota, or anywhere in the Upper Midwest, or really anywhere in the good ol' U.S.A., and you want to learn how to tie flies, you should take one of my upcoming classes.

First up is my three-session-long beginning class that I call the "Joy of Fly Tying". It starts this coming Tuesday evening at the Community Center in St. Anthony, Minnesota, which is just north of both St. Paul and Minneapolis, and runs from 7-9 PM. Over the three Tuesday evenings we will cover the tying techniques that will allow you to be able to tie 95% of all the flies out there. I'm not saying that we will tie 95% of all the flies out there, but through the nine flies that we will tie, you will learn the techniques that will allow you to tie 95% of all the flies out there. OK, maybe it's 93%, whatever. We will have lots of fun, I will try to be clear in my explanations of fly tying terminology (like, what is a "bodkin", exactly?), I will furnish all the tools and materials for class, and it's relatively inexpensive. What could be better?

If you already know the basics of tying flies, but you are having some difficulty with the dry flies, you should contact Robert at Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop in St. Paul and sign up for my one night Dry Fly Techniques class that is happening there on Thursday, November 17th. We'll learn how to tie a Comparadun, a traditionally hackled dry fly, and a parachute dry fly. Three flies, one night, and hopefully all your dry fly tying consternation will disappear forever. If interested, check out bobmitchellsflyshop.com, or call the shop at 651-770-5854.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Art of the L.D.R.

After doing a little math in my admittedly pea-sized brain, I figure I have probably caught around 3 or 4 billion fish in my lifetime. Or it might be more like several thousand - my pea-sized brain is not very good with numbers...Whatever the case, out of all those fish that I have caught, it's the ones that I LDR'd that stick in my brain the most.
Good ol' Webster. He has a definition for everything.

If you aren't as rabid of a fisherman as I am, you may not be familiar with the term "LDR", but you have probably performed a few yourself at some point. "LDR" stands for Long Distance Release. I believe Webster defines it as "the heartbreaking moment when a fish becomes unattached from your fly at any distance from you that is greater than the length of your arm.". LDRs can happen with any size fish, but it's the LDRs that occur when you have a monster on that can become etched in your memory. I have the uncanny ability of remembering big fish that I LDR'd more than 15 years ago, but I am not sure what I had for breakfast yesterday...LDRs can stay with you for a long time.

Take, for instance, the day I spent on one of our local rivers about 16 years ago. It was May, and the Mother's Day Caddis hatch was going gangbusters. It was better than I had ever seen before, or since. I was stationed on the right side of the stream, towards the bottom of a rather long riffly pool, and there were fish chasing caddis flies all over the place. I don't know how many trout I caught in that one pool that day, but I do know that I landed a 17" brown that was quickly followed by a 19" brown, that was quickly followed by a 20" brown, all while standing in pretty much the same spot in the river. But what haunts me is the much larger fish I fought for several minutes that made a bee-line for the far bank, and then calmly glided back and forth in a 20 foot swath until my Elk Hair Caddis became disconnected with his giant maw. I about cried...

Oh, and then there was that time when I was out in the Black Hills, fishing a stretch of water that I assumed was too skinny for anything to live in. I was really just making my way up to check out the next pool, but I had my size 18 beadhead nymph in the water, and sure enough, a giant rainbow engulfed it, and went shooting across the river in a series of acrobatic flips that would make Mary Lou Retton blush. The entire fight lasted mush less time than it took you to read that last sentence, yet it is a scene I will probably never forget.

Speaking of the Black Hills, I was above one of the big reservoirs out there, fishing in a section of a creek that looked to be devoid of all life. When that is the case, I often find myself day dreaming about other places I should go, which is what I was doing when yet another big fish, this time I assume it was a brown, snarfed up my Copper John and headed for the North Dakota border. That fight lasted a smidge longer than the one with the rainbow, but still probably only six seconds or so. Six seconds that will haunt me forever...
Me, a split second after performing a lovely LDR on a hawg...

I've only been musky fishing once in my life. I went with my cousin, who is a bona fide trout bum, like me, so neither of us really knew what we were doing. After several hours of flailing away spread over two days, I not only wasn't concentrating on the fishing that I was doing, I didn't even remember exactly what state we were in. And then it happened: I lobbed my giant fly over towards the weeds for what seemed like the 4 millionth time, and sure enough, a musky came out of nowhere and exploded on it. The river went from calm and peaceful to a warzone at the drop of a hat, I did everything wrong, my heart felt like it might burst, and I never even felt the fish on my line. I guess technically that wasn't a real LDR, since I never had him hooked, but I remember it like it was.

A lot of fishermen probably hate performing LDRs, and I used to be like that. But now I try not to let them bother me so much. After all, my LDRs have given me all these fun, and at the same time unpleasant, memories, and really, that's what fishing is all about, any way, am I right? Besides, I perform way more LDRs than I catch big fish, so I better learn to make the best of it. If you ever want to see an LDR done the right way, just follow me for a an hour or so some day. I'm sure you will get your fill.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chasing Rainbows on the Last Day of the Season

As I wrote in my last post, I went trout fishing a couple of weeks ago on what I originally thought was the last day of the Wisconsin trout season, September 30th. The trout season in Wisconsin has ended on September 30th every year of my 42 years on earth, so you can understand how I could have forgotten that the wonderful Wisconsin DNR had switched the closing date to October 15th this year, for the first time ever. Assuming correctly that I probably wouldn't have another chance to go trout fishing before October 15th, I wrote then about my last trout fishing trip of the year. It was an awesome day with lots of trout.

So, yesterday was the actual last day of the trout season, and I caught exactly zero trout. Instead, I had a father-son date with the Boy, in which we did a lot of manly things like sweeping floors and eating chicken nuggets and playing with wooden trains and shoveling ice cream down our throats. It was awesome! We had a great time, and then when we were done the Wife and I did some things to get our yard ready for winter.

At the end of the day we all went over to my in-laws' house for dinner. They have the great fortune, at least as far as I am concerned, of living on one of the 10,000 or so lakes in Minnesota, so while the cooks were busy finishing up dinner, I snuck down to the lake to see if there were any fish still swimming around near shore. It had been a hot day for our part of country, so I was hoping the bass or bluegills might still think it was summer and be lazing around in the shallows. I only had about 15 minutes or so to fish, but that was OK. Things started out pretty slowly, even though fish seemed to be coming up and nudging my foam spider on every cast. Finally I managed to hook one, then another on the next cast, and another on the next cast. That last of the three was probably the biggest bluegill I have caught since June, but it was so unexpected I forgot to take a picture.

A few minutes later I caught a lovely little guy, and his bright yellow belly mirrored the leaves that were all around the lake. I looked around as my fishing was coming to an end, and up in the sky was a beautiful and completely unexpected rainbow arching over the lake. It was a wonderful way to end the trout season, even though there weren't any trout within 30 miles of me. What a fun day!

Gear used: I used my 7'6" 5/6wt vintage Cortland Pro-Crest fiberglass rod and my Cabelas WLX 4.5 reel, which is strung up with a no-name 6wt DT fly line. The Pro-Crest rods have a reputation of being fine casters despite being the color of baby poop. Mine lays out 50 feet of line with very little effort, so I don't care what color it is. Besides, I'm kind of used to baby poop by now...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Last Day of the Season

Technically speaking, it wasn't the actual last day of the trout season, because the state of Wisconsin extended the season to October 15th this year, for the first time ever. But, when I asked for the day off from work on September 30th, I had forgotten that fact, and still thought the last day of September was the closing date of the season. Since I probably won't take another day off to fish before October 15th, I'll just say that it was the last day of the season, even though it really wasn't. Did you follow all that? Because now I feel more confused than I usually do...

So, I went trout fishing on Friday. My original plan was to explore a new little creek that I had recently learned about, and if that didn't pan out, I was going to explore another new, bigger creek that I had recently learned about. I started on the little creek, which looked awesome and fishy, but after about a half hour of exploring with very little action, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't really in the mood to spend the last day of the season doing so much exploring and so little catching, so I packed up my stuff and drove to my favorite trout stream in the world, where I can usually catch at least a few fish, and no tedious exploration is required.

My favorite stream.
When I got to my favorite place, I noticed the water was still a tiny bit high and off-color from some recent rains we had gotten, so I tied on one of my Mushroom and Swiss Buggers, looking for some big hungry trout. Instead I found a handful of smallish, hungry trout, so after I worked my way downstream a fair way, I tied on the biggest nymph I had with me, a size 10 CDC-Enhanced Rubber Leg Prince Nymph, turned around and headed back upstream, to see what I could do.

Mushroom & Swiss Bugger
CDC-Enhanced Rubber Leg Prince Nymph
My first cast hooked a small brown, and my third cast hooked a slightly larger one. Seemed like I was on to something with my fly selection, which doesn't always seem to be the case. I proceeded to go up and down the river, hooking dozens of fish, and landing many of them. I was able to perform beautiful and yet completely disheartening LDRs (Long Distance Releases) on the three largest fish of the day, but I did manage to land one brown over 12 inches, plus about 4 dozen in the Under 12" category. The biggest one that I LDR'd swam around menacingly like a log with fins for a few seconds before the tippet snapped. What an excruciatingly wonderful way to end the 2016 season, wouldn't you say? Can't wait til next year!
Brown trout, ready to head back home.

Gear Used: I had recently gotten a new-to-me Garcia Americana Beaver Kill model 7-foot 5/6 wt fiberglass fly rod. It is one of the few vintage glass rods that Garcia made with a glass ferrule. Most of their glass rods had metal ferrules of one kind or another. I paired it with my Lamson Konic 1.5 reel with an S.A. 5wt WF line. The whole set-up performed flawlessly all day. what a sweet casting rod! At the end of the day I brought out my old Heddon Black Beauty 7.5' 6wt glass rod, pairing it with my Cabela's WLX 4.5 reel and some no-name 6WT DT line I have. This, too, worked very well. Love my old glass rods!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Washing the Vest

I don't know if you knew this, but it's kind of a well-known fact that you should never wash your fly fishing vest. Over the course of time vests absorb layer upon layer of good juju, which is an essential ingredient in catching fish. If you were to wash your vest, all that good juju would be lost, and then you would have to get by on your own cunning and guile, which most humans have very little of, in my estimation.

Proudly, I can say that I have never washed my fly fishing vests. I am on my second one, a wonderful Simms vest which I have now had for approximately 15 years, but I still have, and sometimes even use, my original Columbia vest, which I got 32 or so years ago. That first vest was quite large for a skinny 10-year-old like I was, but I eventually grew into it. Nowadays it doesn't fit as well as it did a few years ago, but I can only assume that is because all the fish slime has caused it to shrink, and not that my waistline continues to expand... Keep your rude comments to yourself, please.
My vest.

I keep both of my vests, along with my chest pack and waders and hip boots and other fishing paraphernalia, in the gentleman's closet in my fly tying room. If you are unaware of what a gentleman's closet is, like I used to be before I became a gentleman, I will describe it. It is a tall piece of furniture with four drawers in the bottom and a large open space with a closet rod in the top. You can use that large open space to store large things, or to hang up clothes. I use one side of it for the former, and one side for the latter. Or is it vice versa? The nice thing is that the gentleman's closet has two swinging doors on the front, so I can close them to keep everything out of sight, and to keep the aromas on the inside...

I am telling you all of this to set up the rest of my story. My friend Bryon and I went fishing a couple of weeks ago. It was a strange day, weather-wise, as it went from hot and sunny to cool and windy and back and forth, and some rain drops even fell every once in a while. During the hot times, we both got super sweaty in our hip boots. We eventually just took them off and fished in our shorts. Taking off my hot rubber hip boots helped a great deal, yet I still was very sweaty and stinky for much of the day. Then I realized, "Hey, I might very well be stinky, but I sure don't smell as bad as my vest does!!!" It was at that moment that I realized that I am not superstitious in the least bit, and that juju is over-rated when it comes to catching fish. Cunning and guile is where it's at! Oh, and a nice, clean, fresh-smelling vest doesn't hurt, either!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sage Glass

It had been quite a while since I had gotten out trout fishing. It had been quite a while since my buddy, Bryon, had gotten out trout fishing, as well. So, when he suggested we go trout fishing, we both thought it was a swell idea!

We decided to go to our favorite western Wisconsin trout stream last Monday afternoon. The weather was strange that day, in that it would cloud over and sprinkle on us for 10 minutes or so, then the sun would come out and we would instantly get hot and sweaty, then it would cool off and the breeze would come up, and then it would do it all over again. It never rained hard enough to be annoying, and the wind was never so strong that it affected our casting, but it did get hot enough that we both decided to take our hip boots off and fish in our shorts. The area we were fishing requires very little, to no, wading, so the hip boots weren't necessary any way. We were both quite relieved when we took them off.

The fishing was good all day, no matter what the weather was doing. This river is not well known for
its insect hatches, but there were caddisflies fluttering around all day, so Bryon fished almost exclusively with an elk hair caddis, and slayed them. I tried about a dozen different flies, as I am known to do, and caught fish on most of them. At first I fished with my Poor Man's CDC-Enhanced Copper John in red, then I switched to an olive/brown mottled wooly bugger until a big fish broke it off, then I tried a small Madame X, and so on and so on. The caddis hatch had become quite epic right at dusk, so finally I got it in my thick head to put an elk hair caddis on, and I slayed them, as well. It was a great day!
A selfie of Bryon and one of his many trouts. You get to guess if it was Bryon or the trout that took the pic.
As far as equipment goes, I fished two rods that day. First was my Cortland Pro-Crest 7.5' 5/6 weight glass rod. This is a very smooth casting rod, and easily handled all the weighted streamers and nymphs I was using. Next I broke out my Sage SFL 476, which is a 7.5' 4wt glass rod I got a few months ago. I had never had it on the water, so I thought it was about time. Let me tell you, that is about the nicest dry fly rod I have ever cast. It is smooth yet powerful; it handled big and small flies with ease. When I switched to the elk hair caddis to finish off the day, the Sage put my fly wherever I looked, which doesn't happen often when I am casting. If you can get your hands on one of these classic old Sage glass rods, I suggest you do. They are awesome!
My first trout on my newest Sage glass rod.

Monday, July 11, 2016

First Fish On A Fly

My brother-in-law is a great guy. He loves the outdoors. He loves science. He loves learning about new things. But up until a couple of weeks ago, he didn't seem all that interested in learning how to fly fish. But then we were sitting around the house after the Boy's birthday party, and I just happened to mention that I had a fly rod and reel and a couple of flies in the back of the van in case anyone wanted to learn how to cast. He jumped at the chance, so we went down to the lake and had a quick lesson.

He was surprisingly adept at casting - surprising,  not because he is uncoordinated, but because, in my estimation, 99% of beginners take a while to get the hang of it. I am not saying he was a perfect caster, but he was able to get 25-30 feet of line out most of the time, and the wind knots that he did get were not so snarly that they were impossible to untangle. He was doing great!

And, he seemed to be having fun, but it soon became obvious that he would be having more fun if he were to actually catch a fish. He got a few bites with the foam spider he had on the end of his leader, but he was not able to hook up with any of them. Still, he remained intense in his casting and in his searching for fish.

Finally, after a couple of hours or so of casting, he connected with his first fish on a fly: a respectable largemouth bass. He even proved to be a natural at holding it out as far as he could so that it looked bigger for the camera. What a pro! I don't know if he is hooked on fly fishing, but it was fun to help him have a successful first trip. Congrats Boyd!
Look, it's almost as big as his head! Wait a minute, so is his hand...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wonderod Month

It's "Wonderod Month" in one of my favorite Facebook groups that is geared towards fishing with vintage fiberglass fly rods, which just happens to be one of my favorite things to do. If you don't know what a Wonderod is, what rock have you been living under for the past 70 years? Shakespeare Wonderods were one of the most popular line of fly rods ever made, and most of the Wonderods that I have cast have been very nice casting tools, as well. At this point in time I only own one Wonderod, a sweet little 910UL, which is a 7' 5wt, or in other words, the perfect panfish fly rod.

I haven't gotten out much during this "Wonderod Month", but I have found an hour here and there to sneak over to one of my local lakes and tease some bass and bluegills. Every time I have fished this month I have used my Wonderod, and every time I have used my Wonderod it has had a black foam spider with orange rubber legs tied onto the end of the leader. And I don't mean that I have used the same pattern all month long, I mean I have used the same fly. This one fly has caught almost 200 fish, and it just now is starting to fall apart. I guess I need to tie another one, huh? Oh, hey, that will make a good tying video for the ol' blog...

Most of the fish I have caught have been in the small-to-medium size range, but there have been a handful of bruisers. Below are two of the best, a big ol' bluegill and a moderately sized bass.

Happy "Wonderod Month" to you and yours!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

2nd Annual Twin Cities Glass Cast

As you may know, I am a huge fan of fiberglass fly rods. Preferably vintage, but modern glass rods have their place, as well. Other people I know feel the same as me, or, if not exactly the same, they at least think glass rods are cool, even if they still mostly fish with graphite. A bunch of us glass lovers recently got together for the 2nd Annual Twin Cities Glass Cast (that's just what I am calling it; it doesn't really have a name...) to try out each others' glass rods and have a bit of fun. And fun we had!

Much like the 1st Annual T.C.G.C., the 2nd Annual T.C.G.C. was made up of a relatively small group of guys, five to be exact. The only difference was that the 1st Annual had three Minnesotans and two Wisconsinites, and this most recent T.C.G.C. had three Wisconsinites (Ron, Brian, and Jon) and only two Minnesotans (Richard and me). Despite being outnumbered, we Minnesotans were treated respectfully by those from our neighboring state. That may be due in part to the fact that we brought the most rods with. And really, if people from Wisconsin are treating you with respect, who cares what the reason is!

The day started slowly, with each participant bringing out a rod or two. But then those rods made us think about other rods we wanted to show off. And then those rods got us thinking about other rods we wanted to show off. Pretty soon there were dozens of rods being uncased, waggled, and put to use. Rods were admired, cast, put down, then cast some more, then handed off for others to try. Then it would start all over again. Most of the rods were vintage pieces, a  few were modern rods. All of them had to be cast by all of us, and then we would stand around and talk about how they felt and what we liked or disliked about them. There were old rods from Fenwick, Heddon, Shakespeare, Sage, Orvis, Winston and others. New rods from Epic, Echo and Fenwick. All of them were fun to try out and critique. It was a great time!

I don't know if there is going to be a 3rd Annual T.C.G.C., but if there is, you should try to wrangle yourself an invitation.
The T.C.G.C. started out with relatively few rods...
Pretty soon there were more...
And even more...
It was a beautiful evening to cast fly rods

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trouts On Top...

I used to be a dry fly dude. I only fished dry flies for trout, not because I was a snob, or a purist, or an elitist. I fished dry flies because that's the only way I knew how to fish. When I taught myself how to fly fish for trout, fishing with dry flies seemed like the easiest way to do it. I could see the flies. I could see the fish take the flies. I instantly knew when to set the hook. Everything was visual. No knowledge of zen was required. Dry fly fishing was made for me. Or maybe I was made for dry fly fishing... Whatever the case, I fished with dry flies, pretty much exclusively, and I always caught fish. Sometimes even some big ones.

That was back when I fished a lot, if you could call 200+ days a year a lot. Now I am married and have four small children, so I fish about 5-10 days a year. And I can't schedule my life around hatches anymore. When I get a chance to fish, I have to go, whether there will be bugs on the water or not. Which means that, over the past few years, I have taught myself how to fish nymphs and streamers, almost exclusively. And I still usually catch fish, only now there seems to be a larger percentage of big fish, which I am not complaining about.
Some beautiful dry fly water

But, sometimes it's just nice to go out and fish with dry flies, which was exactly my plan when my buddy, Bryon, and I went out this past Saturday. This time of year I figured there would be a good caddis hatch on one of my favorite streams, and if we stayed in to the evening, we might even hit some sulphur mayflies. That was the plan, at least, and I was stoked!
That speck down by the bend in the river is Bryon

It was a bright, sunny, hot day when we got on the water in mid-afternoon. We could see fish rising sporadically up and down the stream. With enthusiasm that belied our advanced years, we jumped into our waders and bounded down to the river. Or at least that's how I remember it now. I let Bryon have the first good pool we came to, and I went upstream to a lovely looking riffle. We both were using some newly-tied Elk Hair Caddis that I had whipped up the night before. It was Game On!
I started the day with my newly acquired vintage Winston glass rod. I was super excited about it, but it wasn't quite the magical wand I was expecting it to be. I will give it a couple more chances before I break it over my knee in disgust...

I finished up the day with my 8' 6wt Berkley Para/metric glass rod. Talk about a magic wand, this rod is Sweet! Did you notice the capital "S" in sweet? That means I really meant it...
Except, we didn't really catch that many. Sure, we both got a few here and there. Being the incessant fly-changer that I am, I would catch a fish or two on one pattern before switching to something else, which would also catch a fish every once in a while. But things weren't happening as fast and furious as I was hoping. There wasn't an obvious hatch going on, just a few random bugs of various species flying around, so it was hard to know what fly to use. I tried caddis flies, crane flies, mayfly duns and emergers. Finally I eschewed my dry flies and tied on a nymph, catching a nice brook trout on my first cast. But even that didn't get many fish excited.

I finished up the day catching my biggest fish on a silver wooly bugger, which was fun. So, I'm not a dry fly purist anymore, who cares?
While not huge, this was the biggest fish of the day. Whaddya think, 11 inches? Maybe 12... so I will say it was 14.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Golden Eagle Bluegills

I had about 45 minutes to sneak away and try out my new old Orvis Golden Eagle glass rod that I recently got. Golden Eagles were made for Orvis by the Phillipson company from between 1971 and 1974, so it's at least as old as me, and maybe a little older. It's just getting into the prime of its life!

It's a 7-foot rod that's rated for a 5-weight line, but while lawn casting it I have noticed that it feels way better with a 4-weight line, at least to me. With the 4-weight line it is as smooth as can be, and surprisingly powerful. With the 5-weight line it seemed overmatched and weak. So, I will stick with the 4-weight.

Using a foam-bodied spider with extra-long orange legs while fishing from shore, I managed to catch a few little bluegills and bass, then things came alive for about 10 minutes, during which I caught a very nice bass and a couple of massive bluegills (massive is a relative term). Then things quieted down, which was fine because my wife and kids were on their way home with frozen custard for everyone.

The Golden Eagle casts beautifully, and I was able to horse the massive 'gills through the weeds without a problem. If you can ever get your hands on an old Golden Eagle rod, snatch it up. I think you will enjoy it!
Massive 'gill #1

Very respectable largemouth

Massive gill #2. I think this one was full of eggs. Or it had just come from an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet...