Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eye of the Beer-Holder

As a public service I am hereby raising awareness about in-wader beverage storage among the fly fishing community. The technique that is being demonstrated here by Worldcast guide Casey Birkholz presents the angler with a number of advantageous benefits.

Happiness: Note the gleeful and upbeat attitude permeating the countenance, and the complete absence of worldly concern. Casey is the epitome of wellness, which is being made possible by the ease of access to what he terms a "barley pop." The hen rainbow trout avoids direct eye contact in the hope that our angler will not become overly enthusiastic, and also place her in his waders by mistake.

Trout in Hand & Coors in the Waders

Safety: Crude systems such as the Beer Guzzler Hat violate considerable airspace above and to the sides of the fly angler. Obvious casting hazards are the unavoidable result as well as the heartbreak of backlash during a presentation. The added cranial load of a hat-based system will also increase stress on the neck and spine, resulting in a lack of fishing comfort. The risk of a hook-punctured can and the associated LOB, or Loss Of Beverage, is greatly reduced under the Birkholz Method. Notice how weight is evenly distributed by the wader harness in an ergonomic fashion.

Alert reader Frank Reid pointed out a few dangers that even I had not anticipated HERE. The follies of using a Camelbak® for carbonated liquids include:
  • Soft tissue injury resulting from over-pressurization of the closed contrivance, causing the end cap to become a projectile. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
  • Getting turned into a "reverse taco" as the shoulder straps become the sportswear equivalent of a reticulated python.
  • Proptosis. This is the medical term for the abnormal displacement of the eyeballs, causing them to protrude unnaturally from the orbits, or eye sockets.
Hydration: Quick access to the longneck is the hallmark of a front-loading approach. Transport losses associated with the plastic tubing of other delivery systems are avoided, yet the ability to go hands-free is preserved. Astute fishermen will appreciate the elbow already forming a 90° angle when grasping the bottle, permitting immediate quenching of any thirst impulse. The bottom line: Minimal waste of motion and superior hydration - keeping the fisherman on the water longer.

Cooling: Arriving at a sufficient depth brings cooling waters into close contact with your beverage of choice, providing on-site refrigeration. The breathable wader membrane is able to keep the label dry during the chilling cycle, preventing the catastrophic loss of grip that is the downfall of coolers everywhere.

If this information helps just one angler, my post will not have been in vain. Bottoms up!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Open Water

During my formative years I was a fan of Transformers. Among my all-time favorites were the Constructicons - a group of individual transformer vehicles that had the added benefit of being able to combine themselves into one giant robot: Devastator.

There was great anticipation and excitement whenever a birthday or Christmas would roll around because a new Constructicon was always a distinct possibility.

Today the only thing that rivals the unbridled enthusiasm I experienced as a kid is Spring's banishment of ice-holes. I believe it was Lewis Carroll who wrote:

Beware the Ratfinky my son!
The jigs that bite, the spoons that snatch!
Beware the vexilar flashers, and shun
The waxworm-baited catch!

I am paraphrasing, of course, but it was something to that effect. There is nothing quite like the year's first stillwater outing. Upon arrival, you peel off 80 feet of line into your stripping basket. After a few pleasant false casts, a double-haul builds line speed and you feel the rod load... only to unleash Hell's own line bastard! Your sinking lines haven't been used all winter and now have more memory than a scorned spouse.

I tend to be far too giddy about throwing the first soft water loops of the year to bother with taking photos. It felt great to feel some aggressive takes this week as rainbows targeted crayfish in the shallows. Some of the strikes were remarkably close to shore and highly visual. I did pause briefly to catalog this trip's typical rod bender:

Spring Stillwater Rainbow

I also enjoyed hucking what has become one of my 2 favorite stillwater rods: The Sage TCX 697-4. Having some extra length at 9-foot 6-inches gives me additional punch for the frequently windy conditions on lakes and impoundments across the West. The TCX has a softer tip than the previous TCR, providing more control, but does not seem to sacrifice anything in the way of distance. The color of the blank is just outstanding too, especially in direct sunlight. The other go-to stick in this category is the Sage Z-Axis 796-4, which adds backbone for bigger fish.

TCX & Rainbow Caudal Fin

Attached to the TCX on this trip was the Lamson Vanquish 7/8LT - which continues to be a really impressive piece of hardware. Even though the drag system in the lighter version of the Vanquish is not quite as robust as big brother's, I would not hesitate to choose this option for bonefish, snook, or baby tarpon to save wear and tear on the casting arm.

If you haven't seen my review of the 7/8LT, I have product photography and additional thoughts here: LAMSON VANQUISH REVIEW

Sage TCX & Lamson Vanquish 7/8

This weekend will find me chasing more rainbows - although I'm guessing I will be on the stick more often than behind the lens once again. I hope to see a few of you on the water.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Robert Frost, in a poem about Spring, spoke of ice as being the "Crystal teeth of the lurking frost in the earth beneath."

Winter is a torturous time for a stillwater junkie in the Rockies. At long last, however, Mother Nature is now teasing us with elusive signs of a thaw.

Brook Trout Rising

Time for some rod bend this weekend. Who's getting out?