Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fly Casting, A Process Toward Being In The Moment


There is one thing that must be learned so that an angler can fish as we think. There is one thing that must be achieved without thought so that an angler can fish in the moment.

By using the word 'think' I am giving you my opinion that a day on the water is a series of puzzles that have to be analyzed to conclusions and then acted upon to get each desired result.  By using the concept of 'without thought' I am suggesting that a day on the water can be best served when our skill level comes naturally.

The amount of time that is devoted to each of these concepts will vary day to day.  I find the less thinking time I am doing the faster the day moves on to night.  That one aspect that serves us best to have the freedom from thought is a result of many, many hours of study, deep concentration and practice to take thought to physical action seamlessly.  It is the amount of time we have devoted to becoming a true casting master.

Each of us, from the time we first held a fly rod till now, has acquired a set of understood principals that gets our fly cast to the intended target.  We all have our individual proficiency and therefore are limited to our personal ability to catch fish.  This ability, or lack of, determines a days outcome.  Certainly we can all understand this concept if I just talk about distance.  Greater distance casting has always been a desire to add to our bag of tricks.  We buy special lines and slick them with Greased Lightning or other compounds to make them slip through our guides and stand high in the water for an easy pick up. But distance is but one aspect that comes naturally during a day. 

To gain that distance some of us must think about how.  Think about and check the background to see if we have a deep back cast, then think about how to increase line speed, then think about the rod casting plane, then think about the trajectory, then think about the individual river currents from here to there, then think about aerial mends, then think about putting everything together.  Then again, some of us already know the background because knowing the background is the same as driving down the highway and knowing if a car is in the blind spot because we drive experiencing the environment at all times.  It becomes a natural part of our time to just be in the moments.  To some who have devoted a lifetime of study and practice these circumstances are processed without thought.  They are performed no differently than a tennis player who reacts to a slam coming their way and makes the reactive movements that returns the ball.  There is no time for thinking, only doing.

The more I practice my casting, the easier casting has become.  Sometimes I pick up the rod and start making forty foot false casts and then I realize that I am using my off hand.  No thought, it is just what happened and I smile because I realize my off hand is becoming one with my casting ability.  This didn't start to happen until I put double hauls with my off hand into my practice routine.  I now attempt the entire Masters Exam off hand and am surprised how comfortable many of the tasks are starting to feel.

I guess what I am trying to say is the more we think about what we want to do, the more we have no need to think about those things we accomplish.  If we take each part of every casting aspect through a process of thinking, studying and performing to excellence, our fishing day can become unencumbered by our lack of ability.  We then have the time to be in the moment and experience another day that moves from dawn to dusk as we contemplate why instead of how.

William.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Two Hand Tactics For Striped Bass

There are some basic fundamentals in casting a two hand rod that carry over to salt water angling.   The first is understanding how the make casting loops of various sizes.   The reason I mention this first is because this aspect has a direct consequence in safety.  

When we cast a heavy weighted fly with tight loops it's like a 75 pound dog running at top speed that gets to the end of their rope and then bounces back from the shock of it's own weight.  Bang and slack is the result.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If the fly bounced to the right or left there is a strong possibility that your heavily weighted Clouser is headed for the back of your head or even causing a broken fly rod after a collision. By making our back cast in a lower plane and the forward cast in a slightly higher plain we can keep the rod moving without full stop under constant tension to make long and fluid casts in complete safety.   The canted angle of the rod is always used on the down wind shoulder side.  Never do we cast on the side the wind is coming from.  Think of the tip of your rod making the shape of a horse shoe at the end of the back stroke.  Round and fluid under constant tension.  No hard stop.  The greater the distance between the back and forward plains, or the horse shoe size,  the wider the loop.  This is the concept of what is called the Belgian Cast.  It is a very power cast that works well in most wind conditions.

Notice in the upper photo of Bass Guru Alan Lindberg that he is in the key position and the line is pointing down in the back even though his forward cast is at the start of full tension.  He completed a drawing jump roll cast to get the heavy fly and T17 up and forward, then made a low plain back cast to get to the forward stroke position under constant tension power. Dominant arm is bent to 90 degrees.  Off hand and dominant hand will move forward together for a very short distance and the power stroke is made using bottom hand pull around a dominant hand fulcrum.

I like to use a slight slide at the end of my forward stroke to clear the rod tip.  This is a move I learned from watching Henrik Mortensen when using Scandinavian shooting heads.  It translates very well when using shooting heads in the salt.

I am so very convinced that using a two hand rod for salt water increases the number of total fishing minutes per tide.  Al Buhr says that the perfect cast is the one that gets our fly from the time it stops fishing till fishing again in the shortest amount of time.

The last thought I will leave you with is to not under size the weight of the rod you use.  Striped Bass are not leader shy and you can use fifteen to twenty pound test and not have to worry should you be fortunate to hook a really big screamer.   Fast Action rods between 11 and 13 feet that are rated as 7 to 8 weight will make your salt water angling a real casting pleasure.

Please check out my PRO Salt Two Hand Collection at www.TheFlySpokeShop.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Diamond Library At The University of New Hampshire

My first impression was of warmth.  I was greeted by William Ross, a fly fishing enthusiast and Head of The Douglas and Helena Milne Special Collections & Archives at the University of New Hampshire. I am in a large room filled with master angling works that represent the true history of our passion.


Dick Surette's Desk sits boldly next to the windows, resting in a very fitting environment.


I was able to research the library resource at http://www.library.unh.edu/.  Knowing what you want is important as this library's books are kept locked away.  I handed my list to William.   

My first choice was Gary Borger's 'Presentation'.  then Jason Borger's, 'The Nature of Fly Casting'.  Both substantial works that will need far greater study than one visit to the library.  I decided to make an on line purchase of Presentation right then. 

I am now seated at my table and waiting with anticipation. William brings me my selections.  I start to delve into Gary's words. Did you know that trout don't mind bright light in their eyes?  What they sense from bright light is fear of being seen.  As light becomes greater during the day a fishes eye adjusts by sending pigment closer to the eye's surface.  Internal changes sending pigment to the surface of the eye starts when the day first changes from  night.  Then changes again as darkness falls.  We also can assume that a fishes eye sight is not very good.  Even up close shapes, colors and movements are all that is required to get that trout to bite.  The more our fly acts as nature the better or catch will be.  A poorly crafted fly in the the correct color and silhouette that is drifting perfectly will get more attention than one tied perfectly that travels with drag.  

Water absorbs light and therefore color as seeing color is the property of light reflecting off an object.  This is why UV, iridescence and fluorescence are used is popular flies.  They are simply easy to see.  Certain colors can also play a big role in what a fishes eye can see.  With the ability to see 26 distinct shades of color, what contrast we choose becomes important.   If we use a green fly in waters that are filled with green algae becomes hard to see as the contrast is lost.  Below six feet in a moderately lit pool we add flash movement can be detected.

There is so much to learn.  If you have the time, a visit to this library is highly recommended.   I became a better angler today after making one brief visit.  Next time at the river the color of my fly will be made after looking at the background be it bottom, water or sky.

The Diamond Library is a gem and needs to be visited.  I plan to do so twice a week for the next two months as I prepare for my Masters.  For more information call 603-862-1919 for hours and days open.  I highly recommend you do.   Who knows, you might even learn how to make a Fly First Cast as I did today.

William

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dry Flies That Float


Here's a little tip I have been using for a few years now.  Doesn't last forever but will keep your fly floating much longer.

Start by stringing a group of flies on light wire and then soaking in Loon Hydroseal for a half hour. Let the excess drip back into the container and hang for a few days to dry out.







Saturday, July 16, 2016

Proper Two Hand Rod Balance




I have experienced many different rods and lines due to teaching two hand casting.   At the very beginning of a lesson, I ask the student if I can cast their rod.  This gives me a subtle way to determine the level of ease that my student will have in their angling day.   A line must match the rod and the rod must be balanced in order to cast easily.

Imagine a seesaw where the balance is not even.  Both sides will have advantage as well as disadvantage when we relate this to two hand casting when starting and stopping movement.

Because there is a learning curve to two hand equipment the set up is not always correct.  The first thing to consider is what line is desired.  The line is the product of the fly choice that must be fished in a way that is best performed to trigger a take from our target fish, with the location and conditions taken into account.

Each of the possibilities will have a different balance point on the same rod.

The reason we balance a two hand rod is based on starting and stopping forward and backward strokes.  The seesaw effect.   If we optimize the ease of movement then the rod will be perfectly balanced when swinging after the cast is made.   We will not have to hold the angle up or down but horizontal.

There is a key phrase in casting that starts the beginning of the balancing process.  It states "Short Line = Short Stroke, Long Line = Long Stroke"

A short head Skagit can be less than 20 feet long.  A Traditional Spey Line can be as long as 95 feet. Since the shorter head will require a shorter stroke the key factor to stroke length will be that the distance between reel and dominant top hand will be narrower.  Of course we are not going to desire a 16 foot rod for the Short Skagit as rod length is determined by line head and belly length.  This evolution of lines in relation to rod length I will hold for another post. For now we need to understand that shortened rod lengths has also shortened fore grip size.  The fore grip fulcrum point is the determining factor no matter what the line choice.  It will be in a different location according to casting style required for your line style choice.  Scandi's to Short Head Traditional's to Skagits or Overhead Shooting there is going to be a balance point that will offer a weight free start and stopping point like that seesaw that is on the center pinion with people of exacting weights at both ends.

First determine the proper line required and put only the line on the reel and put the reel on the rod.  String the rod and have the typical amount of line that there will be out the tip of the rod at the moment of your forward casting stroke stop.  For the short head Skagit it is going to be about 20 to 24 feet.  For a Scandi it will be in the 28 foot range and for a traditional line about 40 to 50 feet.  Have a kitchen food scale ready to go.  Place a pivot point in the exact location that you will have your dominant hand on the fore grip.  At this time the rod will tell you what is needed.  If the butt is heavy you need a lighter reel.  If the top is pointing down we need to add backing.  Take a paper cup and start to fill with weights, pebbles or sand and place on top of the rod over the reel.  When your rod is balanced on the pivot you now have an exacting total weight requirement for the reel, remaining line and backing.    Now, remove the reel and remove the line from the reel.  Weigh the contents of the cup and the reel and write it down.  Now you can start to put on your backing.  When the weight of the reel plus the backing equals the reel and the contents of the cup you are ready to install the line.  If the reel is too small the line will not fit and the process will be repeated with a larger reel.  If the reel is too large there will be too much space and make for a reel that spins too fast and coils our line too tight.

Most of us will opt for the trial and error method and not use a scale.  It doesn't really matter so long as the end result is the same.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Big Dry Fly (Rodan)

I was out fishing one of my local rivers last week.  While presenting every style of dry fly I owned to some very reluctant fish a large spent Dobsonfly fell from an overhanging tree.  I know the river to be filled with hellgrammites and understanding this life cycle became an important task.  The huge floating bug didn't last five feet before it was consumed by a good sized rainbow.

In the river bed we will find the larva stage of this big bug.  Clinging to the underside of rocks and feeding on other smaller larva of caddis, mayfly and midges, for up to five years.  They can go through a molting of exoskeleton up to twelve times as they outgrow their skin.

Reaching a pupal stage is the time they crawl from the river and can walk up to 50 feet from the bank.  They will find a moist location under rocks for another week or two.  Metamorphosis takes place and the courtship begins.  Males fight for the rights to females.  

Another two weeks and the females will lay eggs clinging to leaves above the river or on rocks along the bank where the hatching larva falls into the water in search of it's residence.  They like the faster oxygenated riffles that will provide a food supply.

A key factor to their entire life cycle is the darkness of night.  During the summer when their time to leave the stream starts the thunderstorms vibrations trigger their walking journey.

So, now that I learned a bit about these large four wing adults the tying began.   First was on a #8 4x long streamer hook and was too small.  Next a #4 5x and that seemed to be the right size.  Off to the river I went with three hours to learn what I could.

I tied on the 5x and made my first cast to a visible bow.  The fly landed three feet above in a slow current and the fish took the fly.  No hook up.  Ten more times I had fish take the fly with the same result.  No hook up.  The only fish that fit the entire bug in it's mouth all at once was a three pound smallmouth bass.

What I realized was the trout were grabbing the fly by the wings and needed to chomp in order to take it in their mouth completely.  One bite and they knew it was a fake and spit it out.   The other problem was keeping the fly floating.   Back to the bench.

Softer foam wings, foam under body and a smaller hook placed up at the head with a hollow tube as the body extension.  I sealed the back of the tube with UV epoxy.

Again, I went back to the river.  Crazy how many fish continued to be attracted to the fly.  The floating issue is totally solved.  Fish were making takes and still not getting hooked.  Then it hit me.  The leader was slightly dragging the fly so it was pointing toward me.  So, I changed my position to only be casting down and across stream giving me the ability to control the fly pointing up stream and still be dead drifting.  When the 18" Rainbow took the fly and then turned the hook was in position.  Next ties will have a slightly larger hook.
Now that I know I have a real working fly it is time to give it a name.  It will be called
'Rodan'

Monday, June 20, 2016

I Took The PLUNGE

Built this 6'6" 3 weight as an addition to the collection of rods I offer. The blank is available in three lengths and weights. I decided to give it a test drive this week end. Because of not being familiar with short fiberglass rods it took me a bit of time to get the feel. As the day went on I found that this soft action stick was a powerhouse when needed. Slow and easy was the way to go. I made curves and aerial mends with ease. Spey style casting was great fun. I must say that I have been adverse to shorter sticks, but now I see the light. Can't wait to get out again and find some larger fish for the final test.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Glass Is Back

Here is my new PLUNGE Series of Linear Glass Fly Rods.  Comes is 6'  2wt., 6'6"  3wt. and 7'  4wt.  Each rod is appointed with agate stripper guide, epoxy burl cork accents and is wrapped in my quality sock and aluminum tube.  No need to dive in the deep end with a rod at such a shallow cost.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weekend Rainbows On The Run

The bows are moving nicely right now.  I am amazed at the range of flies that these lake run fish will take.  This one hit a hot pink San Juan Micro worm.  Never my go to fly but one that was shared on the river.  We were also successful with Orange Eggs, Caddis Pupa, Hendrickson, Olive Leech and Pheasant Tails. 

Saturday started out very cold with the guides freezing until 1pm.  I was never able to get warm until hitting D&D's for a hot chocolate on the ride home.  All toll for a group of eight, between Saturday & Sunday, about a dozen and a half fish were landed with the smallest at 16 inches.  The largest was 20+ inches that hit a Caddis.

The key to this style of fishing is, with out a doubt, a slow and natural flow presentation.  None of my fish hit a swinging fly even though I was fishing a streamer or leech as my top fly.  What this tells me is that the water is still cold and the metabolism of the trout low.  Always be aware of the distance between your indicator and the first weight.  Many anglers are using a weighted fly as the way to get down.  As no two pools are the same depth and speed you must always adjust.

Very soon the water will warm and it will be the suckers turn to spawn.  This time becomes the high point of the spring season for me when the Landlocked Salmon move in to feed on Sucker spawn.  As long as the water holds the Smelt will arrive and we should have good salmon fishing for the month of April and a decent chunk of May.

William

Thursday, December 31, 2015

FullFlex HIGH STICK NYMPH Rod

 This is my 11 foot 3 weight FullFlex Trout Stick.  It has so many advantages over a traditional fast action 9 foot rod it is a wonder why any trout angler who angles dry fly, soft hackles and nymphs would not have one in their collection.  The concept is actually very unique.  A tool that will cast using water and air loads, mends at long distance and plays the largest trout on the lightest tippet.  Sound like a plan?  www.TheFlySpokeShop.com