"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, March 28, 2017

The Sevens, Part 2: Orvis Fullflex A

Any fly fisher person who hasn't been living under a rock will recognize the name Orvis. Orvis is one of the biggest names in the industry, selling rods, reels, and everything else fly fishing related. They have some of the sweetest casting rods in the world, and have for a long time. My first "nice" fly rod was a 7'6" 3wt Orvis Silver Label graphite rod that I got back in the mid-90s. Before that I had done all my fly fishing with an "adequate-but-hardly-high-end" Cortland GRF, which was fine, but not "sweet". The Orvis rod changed my impression of the fly rod, from something that was fun and different, into the most awesome tool that man has ever created.

Some of you may already know that before Orvis sold graphite rods, they were a big seller of fiberglass rods. For the first 10 years or so their glass rods were made by the Phillipson company. The Phillipson-made Orvis rods I have cast have been very nice, but I much prefer the Orvis rods that were made in-house during the later years. Most of these Orvis made rods were known as Fullflex "A" rods. Don't know how they came up with that name, but I do know that they are sweet!

The rod I am writing about today is my 7' 5wt Fullflex "A" rod. It is a sweet little rod with plenty of reach to make 40-50' casts with ease, and enough backbone to cast medium-sized nymphs and streamers, or big-bushy dries. But it can be super delicate, too. The rod I own has a perfectly-sized cork grip, and a nice downlocking reel seat. Fullflex "A" rods were not known for their fancy accoutrements, and this rod is no exception. Simple but elegant script writing on the brown blank, along with single-tone orangish-brown wraps on the guides. But don't let that simplicity fool you. Let me tell you, this is one awesome casting tool. If you can find an Orvis Fullflex "A" rod in any size, I think you will happy with it.

Gear used: Orvis Fullflex "A" 7', 5wt fiberglass fly rod; Ross Gunnison G2 fly reel; No-name peach colored 5wt DT fly line.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mini Glass Cast

If you have spent any time on this blog at all, you probably know that I have a deep rooted love for fiberglass fly rods. They are slow, you can feel them load, you don't have to have expert timing to make them work correctly, and they are cool. I, personally, also have a special thing for vintage glass. It's not that I don't like modern glass. It's just that I usually can't afford modern glass, so instead I have piles and piles of vintage glass. I think it secretly makes me happy inside to know that old things can work so well. Gives me some hope for myself...

I have several friends who also love glass rods, and we have, on occasion, gotten together to cast each others' rods. But I recently found out that I have two more friends who love glass, so of course I made plans for those two to join me in a hastily planned "mini glass cast".

It was a cold, windy day on the Minnesota tundra. We had heard that it was supposed to be in 40s, which seemed doable, but I don't think it ever got above 35, and the wind gusts had to have been around 35, as well. In other words, it was almost too cold to be out casting fly rods in a yard, but that didn't stop us.
I forgot to take any pics at this mini glass cast, so this is from an earlier get-together...

My friend, Greg, was the first to arrive. He unveiled several lovely old Fenwicks, along with a newer Diamondback 7' 3wt, a really cool James Green Spring Creek 8' 4wt, and a cannon of a Seele 8'8" 6wt. I brought a couple of Scotts, a Sage, a Wonderod, a Berkley Parametric, and a couple of others. Greg cast my rods, I cast his, and then we switched up, and then we went back to what we started with, and so on and so on.

Along the way my friend Peter arrived. He did not bring the numbers of rods that the rest of us brought, but he more than made up for that with quality. The first rod he took out, if my memory is correct, was a 7'9" 4wt Lemon Drop, which boggled everyone's minds. Then he unsheathed a 7'8" 4wt Chris Barclay rod, which made our jaws drop. Then he brought out a 7'6" 4wt Orvis Superfine, which took a backseat to none of the others. Talk about nice, modern glass rods!

So the three of us spent the next couple of hours trying to ignore how cold we were as we all went back and forth from rod to rod to rod and then back again. After all of that casting, we came to one conclusion: all glass rods have their own merit and strong points, and they are all awesome in their own way. What a fun, cold day!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Sevens, Part 1: Phillipson Royal

I think that the fly rod is the coolest tool ever to be invented my mankind. Right behind the fly rod is the Matarelli whip finisher, but that's a story for another day, so let's get back to fly rods. I have cast a lot of fly rods over the years. Not only have I owned a bunch, but I worked at a fly shop for 12 years, so I was able to cast all the rods we sold there. Over the years I have come to appreciate fly rods of seven feet in length. I know they aren't always the most useful fly rod around, like if you are on big water or are chasing muskies, but I usually don't do those things. Seven-footers are very useful on a lot of the streams and ponds that I fish, so I have a special place in my heart for them.

Good thing I like them so much, because I own several! This is the first in a many-part series of posts about some of my seven-foot rods. Each post I will talk about an individual seven-footer, and why I like, or dislike, it so much. First up is my 7 foot, 6 weight Phillipson Royal.


The Phillipson rod company started out making bamboo rods, and switched over to being one of the premiere fiberglass rod builders in the country. I have cast a handful of Phillipson-built glass rods over the years, some of which were silky smooth casting tools, and some of which were clunkers. My Phillipson Royal is one of those silky smooth tools.

I hadn't cast my Royal in a while, so I recently took it out on the lawn to remind me of its virtues. It was fun. Being a 6-weight, this rod has some oomph, but it lays out a delicate presentation as well. I was able to belt out 45-foot casts into the considerable headwind that always encompasses my office building, and when I was casting with the wind, I was able to lay out 60 feet with little effort. I know this because I was casting a 100-foot long double taper fly line that I had cut in half to 50 feet. Let me tell you, seeing the backing never gets old, even if I am just casting half of a line...

I have never had any trouble casting large weighted nymphs and streamers with my Phillipson Royal, but it has the feel I need to cast tiny Blue Wing Olives on a long leader, as well. And every cast ends up right where I want it, as long as I haven't done anything stupid to mess things up.

I love my 7-foot Phillipson Royal. If you have a chance, you should try one for yourself. I think you will like it.

Gear Used: Phillipson Royal Model# RF70C 7' 6wt fiberglass fly rod; Scientific Anglers System 6 fly reel; No-name 6wt DT fly line.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Expo

The 2017 Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo ended yesterday, and I think it is safe to say it was the best one yet. I was there doing tying demonstrations all three days, and I had loads of fun. I met all sorts of interesting characters, tied lots of flies, and gave away most of them. It was great!
My work area for the Expo this year.

Friday was a little slow, but not as slow as the Fridays of some past years' Expos. When I arrived at the arena on Saturday afternoon for my scheduled tying time,though, I couldn't believe how many people were there. There was a sea of people. Way more people than I would have ever expected to have been interested in fly fishing! It was fun to see so many people there, but I momentarily imagined them all figuring out my secret trout fishing spots...That was scary!

Sundays at Expos like this can be fun, and this year's sure was. There wasn't the multitude of people that there was on Saturday, but there seemed to be a lot more kids, whom I had fun teasing, and a fair number of the aforementioned interesting characters, whom I had fun listening to. Sometimes I feel like my life doesn't have enough interesting characters in it, and then I go and spend three days at a fly fishing expo and I realize I have plenty...

So, I spent a total of about 13.5 hours tying dozens of flies, but when it was all said and done I only came home with 3 of them. I gave all the rest away, mostly to kids, and also to some of the characters. I started out tying Hippie Stompers, and then spent a majority of the time tying dozens of Stimulators. I tied so many that I used all the bleached elk hair on the patch that I brought with, and had to switch to tying them with black wings and tails. People still liked them!

Stimulator

Empty patch of elk hair
If you're in the Twin Cities next March, make sure you head over to the Great Waters Expo. I'm sure I'll be there, so stop by and say Hi!
 

Friday, March 10, 2017

In Print

I have seen my name in print a bunch of times, and let me tell you, it hasn't gotten old. Granted, most of the times that my name has been in print, I put it there. You see, I have been an Editor of two different publications in my life, and in both of those roles, it was oftentimes much easier for me to sit down and write whatever article needed writing than it was to find someone else who had the time or urge to write it.

RipRap
My first foray as an Editor was when I took over the publishing of my local Trout Unlimited Chapter's monthly newsletter, RipRap. I think that was around 2007, and I did it for about 6 years. In those 6 years, I wrote many articles and took many photographs, and got better and better at laying out a publication. It was fun. It won the Bollinger Award for best TU Newsletter in the country. And I got to see my name in print a lot.

I also had the opportunity to see my name in a now-defunct regional golf magazine called North Country Golf that I launched back in 2010. I put out a total of 8 issues over two years, I wrote about 95% of the content, took about 95% of the photos, did 100% of the layout, ad sales, marketing, and distribution, which is probably why it is now defunct. To be honest, I almost went defunct trying to get it all done, not to mention the fact that I still had a full-time job, a part-time job, and two kids under the age of 2 at the time. What was I thinking?!?! It was fun to see my name in print, though...
Every issue of North Country Golf. If you'd like to check it out, let me know. I can hook you up!

Which brings me to my latest endeavor. I recently found out that Fly Tyer magazine was going to run another of my articles. This one is titled Highly Adequate Parachute Flies, and it is in the Spring 2017 issue which is on news stands now. My first article for Fly Tyer ran in the Autumn 2014 issue, and that was about CDC-Enhanced Nymphs. I suppose, since I am tooting my own horn here, I should mention that I also had an article in The Drake a few years ago. You can read that one in its entirety HERE.

So, if you have a chance, check out Fly Tyer in the next couple of months. Perhaps I will have another article in a future issue. I might as well try, it's fun to see my name in print!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Finished!

I finished my big fly order a few days ago, and it feels rather strange. I had been spending almost every night for the past several months down in my basement office tying flies, after the Wife and kids were in bed. But now, I don't need to do that. It's weird. This past Saturday I actually got to sit next to the aforementioned Wife while we watched a movie, instead of down on the floor, tying flies while sitting in front of the coffee table. It was nice, but odd. I don't know how else to describe it. Thankfully, I am sure I will get back into the swing of not having to tie flies, at least until next fall, when hopefully I will get another order.
All the flies in my order. It was 18 dozen, but they are small, so to me it feels like it should look more impressive. Oh well...
All the Size 18 BWO KlinkHansons
Aside from the oddness I feel, I am also very happy that a fly I designed, the KlinkHanson, will again be available for people to buy. We used to sell them at the shop I used to work at, but since I stopped working there, the KlinkHanson hasn't been available anywhere. But, I am happy to report that Lund's Fly Shop ordered 6 dozen of them, so now you can get them in a size 18 BWO version, and a size 16 in an Adams color scheme. If you are in western Wisconsin, make sure you swing through River Falls and pick some up at Lund's. You can even tell them Scott sent you, although that probably won't make any difference...
Size 18 BWO KlinkHanson, close up.
Size 16 Adams KlinkHanson, close up.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Faux Pas

I made a major faux pas the other night, and I'm still not too happy about it.

It happened like this: I was getting ready to teach a one-night Dry Fly Tying class at one of my local fly shops. I think it was the 5th or 6th time I had taught the class over the past several years, so I felt as though I was ready. I had tweaked the syllabus since the last time I taught it, removing a fly and putting a new one in its place. The added fly isn't as popular as the one it replaced, but I thought the differing materials and techniques would add to the class. I had practiced the new fly the night before class, and it looked good, if I do say so myself, so my confidence was high as I arrived at the shop.

Then I unpacked my tying bag. It was soon very evident that something was missing: my beloved Regal rotary vise! I was sure that I had packed it, along with all of my other tools and materials for class. But it wasn't there. Oh the horror!

Oh sure, the shop I was teaching at had several different vise options that I could use, and I picked another Regal, but it wasn't my Rotary, and it threw my game off for the entire evening. I tried to persevere, but my flies just seemed a little off, and in my head I was sure that my students could tell. I imagined them all thinking "Who is this fool that is supposed to be teaching us? He doesn't seem to know a grizzly hackle from a hole in his head! His flies are mediocre at best!" Thankfully I imagined their thoughts to be not all that mean...

I wondered if someone had stolen my vise out of my bag when I wasn't looking. I wondered if maybe I had taken it out while I was at work earlier that day and left in on the conference room table. I wondered if maybe one of my fiendish kids had hidden it in the black hole that presides under their bed. I wondered who could be so mean that they would steal a man's beloved fly tying vise and leave an empty place in his heart for the rest of eternity. I wondered a lot of things....

Then I went home after class and found my vise folded neatly on my fly tying desk where it always is. I guess I had set it there whilst packing my tying bag the night before, and forgotten to pack it with the rest of my stuff. Now I wonder if I'll ever do that again...I sure hope not!
There it was, right on my desk like it always is...