Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Fishermen

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it ws the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..."
--Charles Dickens

This man was likely a fly fisherman. Spring brings with it new hope, but winter's tendrils still cling to the landscape. Ice melts, but temperature fluctuations and limited insect activity can make for highly technical fishing.

"Make a 60-foot cast to within about 3 feet of the bank just left of the sagebrush," Cody said as he guided me into a pod of thick rainbows in shallow, crystal clear water. I launched a tiny chironomid pupa up into the shallows with my left hand since the wind was bearing down from my right. I am not left-handed.

The strike indicator on my leader was bouncing all over on the waves, and I was watching for the slightest abnormal pause or twitch. It slowed down almost imperceptibly as it drifted with the wind, and I set the hook. "This could be a small fish," I commented as there wasn't much of an initial reaction. That's when 125 yards of line peeled off my reel and left me within 25 yards of having my entire line and backing ripped by a stillwater rainbow trout. Sixteen minutes later a hen that was unremarkable in most dimensions except that she was 3 inches thick across the back was in my net.

The fishing was challenging, and we made hundreds of casts that went unrewarded. Still, the sun was out and we were throwing small flies to big fish.

When they took our offerings, long duels were the norm.

After about 12 hours of difficult fishing, we had 24 fish over 20-inches in the net, and felt like things looked more like the Spring of hope than the Winter of despair.

These trout leave a bite mark on the soul, and sometimes other places too. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Cheechman Cometh

One of the last things that come to mind when attending the annual Wasatch Fly Fishing Expo is the “Largemouth” which is characterized by a lower jaw that extends behind the eye when the mouth is closed. Nevertheless, Cheech was in attendance and nestled tightly into the classic structure of an ambush hunter: Mountain Dew and vertically growing Crystal Flash.

Cheech is one of the most innovative and talented local fly tiers around, and has already become a Rainy’s innovator with such patterns as the Grumpy Frumpy. Check out his blog at and be prepared to see his sick ties in a pro shop near you. I had the chance to photograph some of his work this week, and below is a preview of what you’ll be seeing on his site in the near future.

Contact him for the best vice droppings available, and don’t be too alarmed if the flies smack of smelly jelly, Yamamoto Senko worms, and Berkley GULP minnows. Just lather, rinse, and then repeat.

Live, or let tie.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Throw Meat

Just a quick look forward to Atkins for tiger muskie: Pure meaty goodness.

I call this one the "Chilly Verde" but it's a variant of the Reynolds Bunny Leech.

This is a standard bunny, tied on a size 2/0 stainless saltwater hook and strengthened with super glue at the tie down points.

The white version, tied with glow-in-the-dark Flashabou and red crystal flash.

Soft water in the North can't come fast enough.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Galvan Torque T10 Fly Reel

The Galvan Torque fly reel has been gaining popularity for good reason. It has a sleek design, several attractive finish options, is extremely light weight, and is made in the USA. This is the T10 variant, and it balances nicely on a 9-foot for an 8-weight rod.

The Ross Momentum and Nautilus CCF are the primary contenders in the Torque’s price segment. The T10 is lighter at 8.2 oz than the Momentum #6 at 10.3 oz and CCF-10 at 9.2oz. It is also available in very nice bronze and green finishes in addition to black. Ross only offers black and gold, and both finishes are more utilitarian than eye catching, being similar to what you find in the $100 reel category. Matte silver is an option with the Nautilus. Visually the Galvan is the sexiest of the group. The Momentum and CCF drag systems, however, are excellent and possibly more durable than Torque’s design.

I appreciate the drag knob on the Torque. It has a large diameter and is easily adjustable even while wearing gloves. The detents are light, but resistant enough to avoid accidental adjustment. The Torque is a quiet reel, making rapid yet subtle clicks when cranked.

The spool release is very simple. Just press the center button and off comes the hardware. This is really a nice feature for situations where line changes are common. Conversion from right to left-hand retrieve is not difficult, but it helps to have a pair of tweezers and some dexterity. You have to lift up a retention ring, and hold it in place while inverting the pawl, after which you need to be careful to reseat the ring correctly.

Check out for pricing and availability on Galvan’s line of reels.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holo Pupa Chironomid

Hook: TMC 2457
Body: Holotinsel
Rib: Microtubing or Larva Lace
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Head: Tungsten bead
Gills: Antron yarn

This is a great producer during ice off on Utah stillwaters. I tie variants in blue, black, olive, and red. I hope to be dunking one real soon...

Sage 2560 Fly Reel

One of the great products I’ve been using for the past few seasons is the Sage 2560 fly reel.

This reel is so light weight (4 7/8 oz) that it feels perfectly balanced on 4-7 weight rods. It seems unbelievable, but my Sage SLT 9’ for a 4wt has the perfect center of gravity with the 2560, as does my Z-Axis 9.5’ for a 7wt. This allows me a great deal of flexibility by using the same body with four different rod sizes.

The numbered drag is so great that it’s a bit of a curiosity that more reel makers do not follow suit. You can select the exact settings you know will work for any particular application, and it is always repeatable.

The spool attaches to the body by means of an O-ring seal, which keeps out salt, debris, and water equally well. Changing from right to left-handed retrieve is easy, and is accomplished by simply inverting a bearing nut underneath the drag gear (which can be removed with no tools).

The arbor of the 2560 is extremely large, and allows for very fast line retrieves. Again, for a reel of this weight its dimensions are remarkable.

The one minor complaint I have about the 2560 is simply that the O-ring tends to change elasticity with temperature fluctuations. When it is very cold, removing the spool requires a lot of finger strength if you need to change lines.

The reason I chose to blog about this little gem is that the model is being discontinued by Sage for 2009, and this high-end reel that retailed for over $400 can now be had for half price! Check out and go to “Product Search” if you would like one. Select the line item for “Clearance Fly Reels.” The entire series is available, from the 2540 through the 2580.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ice, Ice Baby

The Byrds’ song Turn Turn Turn indicates that to everything there is a season.

A time to cast…A time to retrieve…
A time for runs…A time to reel…
A time to catch…A time to release…
And a time to every game fish under Heaven.

In Utah the “changing of the seasons” is something that happens from one minute to the next. Early last week temperatures were in the 60s, which gave way to sustained winds of 60-80 MPH mid-week. The gale heaved great ice sheets off Otter Creek Reservoir, causing them to hammer into the shorelines like a microcosm of plate tectonics.

Friday brought a big snowstorm, and portions of our drive down to Otter Creek were on unplowed snowpack. When we arrived Saturday about 11:00 AM, the air temperature was 22° F and ice was clogging our rod guides. As the storm broke, blue sky began peeking through the clouds.

In between chipping ice off our rods and blowing on our blue fingers, we caught what we had come for: The rainbows of not-quite-Spring.

Occasionally Otter will yield up a steelhead-like fish from the deep. Cody landed a brute in the early going that turned out to be among the nicest fish of the trip.

After 6 hours of remaining half submerged in 37° water and losing all sensation below the duodenum, we sought refuge at the Butch Cassidy’s Hideout in Circleville. Oh what a brownie sundae they weave when first you practice nubbins to freeze.

All that is necessary for the triumph of anorexia is for good men to eat nothing.

For the rest of the story, make sure to check out JayMorr’s blog. He doubled over his 5-weight on some girthy ‘bows and provided great stories and company on the trip. Cheers mate!

Thanks for circling back around!