"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

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!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fly Focus: Rusty Spinner

I used to beat my head against the wall trying to match the midge hatch that was obviously occurring around me on trout streams throughout the Upper Midwest. It was usually around dusk, I couldn't see any bugs on the water, yet there were fish rising consistently everywhere I looked. I tried every midge imitation I could find, because what else could it be?!?!
Rusty Spinner, Size 16

I'll tell you what it could be, and probably was all those times that I was getting frustrated. It was probably a mayfly spinner fall, is was it was. I finally figured that out one evening, fifteen years ago or so, and once I switched to a mayfly spinner imitation, I started to consistently catch fish. What a fun breakthrough that was!

Mayfly spinners are fairly easy to tie. I like to use a goose or turkey biot for the abdomen, and dubbing for the thorax. But you can use dubbing for both. Or any other number of materials. For the wings I prefer antron yarn, but other things like poly yarn, hen hackle tips, and organza can work well, among other things.

For a while I liked to tie the antron wings spent, like a normal spinner, but then also add an antron post and a parachute hackle for visibility. That is an added dimension that can be frustrating to tie, so now I have gone back to the spent wings-only approach. Some people add a little piece of yellow foam over the thorax for visibility. That can be a good idea, since spinners can be difficult to see on the water's surface.

Here's how I tie them:

Rusty Spinner Pattern Recipe

Hook: Tiemco 101 or other straight-eye dry fly hook, size 12-24
Thread: Brown or rust, 8/0 or smaller
Tail: Mayfly Tails, dun
Wing: Antron yarn, white or dun
Abdomen: Goose or turkey biot in rust, brown or tan
Thorax: dry fly dubbing in rust, brown or tan