Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Spey & Switch Class At Tall Timber Lodge

Way up in the Great North Woods in Pittsburg, New Hampshire sits one of the best lodge experiences available. I am very proud to announce that I will be teaching two Spey & Switch classes at Tall Timber Lodge. The May class was fully booked, and now a second class is being offered on September, 19. What a great time to be swing and dangling flies on the Connecticut River system to big browns and landlocked salmon. This class is going to book fast so if you have any interest please call the lodge.  

For more information on class availability or class creation at your location please contact me at William@FlySpoke.com.  For information about the September Tall Timber class please contact Tom@talltimber.com.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

--NEW--Pro Series Fly Rods





Available in 35 High Modulus Fast Action and Light. Single, Switch and Two Hand Fly Rods. 
All custom built and crafted with pride in the USA.  Start your build today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Best Of Both Worlds

The problem with using a switch rod for nymph fishing is the weight.  Even a commercial 3 weight is really a 5 or 6 weight.  This is because the two hand rod fly line industry dictates the weight of the lines, calls them what they want and the rod companies follow suit.  For single hand lines the fist thirty feet is what determines the weight classification.

I have developed two new rods for the trout and landlocked salmon angler who wants to have full versatility while on the water.  Increased distance of casting and mending and a real switch rod concept.  Each is based on a true 2, 3, 4 or 5 weight power according to AFFTA yet has all the added ability of a two hand rod.  Also having a length that will not cause shoulder fatigue when single hand casting is desired. Feeling the take and excitement of the play is so important.

They are both built on a 10 foot blank platform.  These are IM6 medium action rods that will allow the shock absorbing give necessary when playing a big fish on very light tippet.  The choice is a removable bottom grip that extends the rod to be 10' 4" or the 10 foot blank with full custom grip that has a static mini bottom grip. Plenty long enough for two hand fulcrum pull when swinging.

So, if you are looking for that perfect nymphing stick that will quickly change into a swinging stick and with only a line change be a dry fly rod then these two versions will be a sure hit.

FlySpoke builds custom fly rods in many other designs for your exacting requirements.  We take the time to create that perfect stick that will be the most versatile for where you fish.  If you would like to explore the possibilities of creating that build I would be happy to offer you a high quality fly rod, made in America at what seems to be an imported price.

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Remember Atlantic Salmon In Maine

As my years have turned into real time, I have been reflecting on important moments.  In my angling life there is one that stands out above others and happened during the early 1970's in Maine.

The Narraguagus River is a Queen of waters among salmon rivers.  She has all the components that make for strong shouldered fish like those of the Matapedia and Moisie.  This is a river of Salmon and very few Grilse.

It was not my first year in pursuit of a Salar encounter.  I had been traveling to Maine in late May and June for three years and visited most of the other rivers with major runs.  Penobscott, Sheepscot, Pleasant, Dennys and Machais had all received some time with no takers.

I arrived in Cherryfield late in the day and spent the night in a local motel.  The rain had been coming in buckets and was not giving up.  The river would be in full glory and sounding a dark rage.  Reality was far more harsh than my words.  Even with such conditions the casters were lined up at the Cable Pool.  Other pools down river were available but most anglers would put their rods in order and wait their turn on this highly productive water.  I seem to remember hours between rotations at times.

On this day I decided to cross the rail trestle below the pool and fish from river right.  My 8 1/2 foot Fenwick glass 8 weight would be a limited match for a raging river that offered little back cast room.  Sinking line and a huge Mickey Finn was my set up.

As the rain continued, I made cast after cast shooting out as much line as possible and then letting the heavy current take more line down river through my fingers.  This is a technique that I now use to control the side ways speed of my fly in faster water.  In the middle of a swing it finally happened.  I had a salmon on my line in a raging river with no less that thirty people lining the banks.  The show was on.  The fish jumped multiple times, screamed down river, bored its way to the opposite bank where I thought it had wrapped a rock,  coxed close at hand on a heavy leader and finally came to net.  I then did what seemed natural.  I removed the hook quickly scampered back to the river and let the fish go.  What a thrill.

You could have heard a pin drop!

Now, today we call it 'Live Release' and before that 'Catch & Release' and up in Maine in 1973 they called it 'I can't believe he let it go'.  I remember one fellow coming up to me and telling me that if I am going to release a salmon that I should not have used the net.  I have hand tailed many fish for myself and others, removed the hook and having the catch on it's way in a matter of moments since.

I think for many that day it was the first time they experienced the release part of the equation.  The following year I made a stop at L.L. Bean for supplies and a fellow said, "Hey, you're that guy who let the Salmon go up on Naraguagus."  I proudly said, "Yes I am".

Sadly, the salmon of the cable are now visions in my mind.  I Remember Atlantic Salmon In Maine.

William

Saturday, March 28, 2015

High Stick Switch Rod, Nymph or Swing?

I have been fishing my medium action high stick nymphing rods for about ten years now.  The advantage over what I see most anglers using is just amazing.  Longer drag free drifts, easier mending and control as well as effortless casts.  I carry two different leader set ups.  One for nymphing with or without indicator and then a collection of poly and versi leaders for when the swing is the thing.  I make these rods in a number of configurations from 10 feet to 11 feet with removable or static bottom grips.  $325.00 to $450.00  If you would like any further information please contact me at William@FlySpoke.com.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Can Instinct Be A Learning Process?

A while back,  I received a phone call from a very good friend and highly experienced angler.  He called to tell me about his day fishing and the events that happened.  In great detail, he told me of the five hook ups through the day and how and where.  I was really happy for his good fortune and wished I had joined him.  The important fact was that he remembered every aspect of what occurred.

Any day in February, that you have five hook ups is a great day to me.  I then asked how his partner did.  "He didn't get any to take" he said.  "We were fishing the same water with the same flies and I just can't explain why.  He has all the passion and desire and did work hard, but just did not connect."

Well, I think I can explain exactly why and it has to do with what I call Learned Instinct. Fish have instinct that is extremely powerful.  The slightest thing out of place will freeze them from moving, let alone take a fly.

Some of us will go through an entire day and not give a thought as to what is happening under the water.  Some of us will watch with great concentration as our line moves with the flow.  Some of us could close our eyes and feel every move the line is making.  When you get to that point you have achieved Learned Instinct.

The angler who throws out his line without thought is relying on luck.  The angler who watches every movement is learning.  The angler who can feel has learned what is right and makes it happen without thought.  Sort of like a basketball player who has achieved spontaneous action.  No premeditated thought goes into the process but the result is a basket.

The difference in my friend and his partner is the number of hours of careful attention paid to what is happening at every moment.

The moral to this story is that you need to fish a lot if you want to be successful.  Not every day will produce the catch, but your chances increase with every moment you are willing to pay attention.

William

Friday, January 23, 2015

Chernobyl Ants On Draft

Had a great time tying at the Three Rivers Stocking Association Jam last night.  Three Rivers is a wonderful organization that works to clean and stock some of the waterways in southern New Hampshire that were decimated by the industrial revolution.

Today the Lamprey and Cocheco are clean and hold trout year round.  Look them up and make a donation.  I am happy to be a contributing member.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Light Tippets, Light Weight Full Flex Rods & Big Big Fish


Over the past two and half months I have been playing with some truly unique Landlocked Salmon.  Some of the largest available in North America.  These are lake inhabitants for most of the year and find their way up rivers on their fall spawning run.  They are in every way genetically correct to Salmo Salar that roam the North Atlantic yet never have tasted salt water.  

My normal start to this short, and sometimes very short, season is swinging streamers and leaches with my eleven foot four weight.  I run a Skagit integrated short with tips and leaders that are correct for the situation of the moment.  But this year was very different.  The run started so early that  my favorite style of angling, the pure swing, was null and void.  The fish were not lake dwellers any more and the taste of river life was in their brain. 

For the swing I have no problem using a 2x tippet at eleven pound test. The 4 weight performs perfectly on fish up to ten pounds and my confidence in handling the screamers is very high.
Then there is the darker side of my angling.  My conviction is simple.  "Swing when I can and nymph when I must".  I have no problem hooking up a strike indicator and using weight to correctly fish with nympths and eggs and micro worms and what ever is needed to get the take.  Then I use another four weight in my collection.  A ten foot four inch two hand switch that has medium flex that will let me drop down the tippet size to as low as 5x if needed.  What I loose in tippet strength I gain in the flexibility of the rod and the fast bending forgiveness that sudden rapid movement requires..

For many years now, the fly rod industry has been following the line makers.  That's just the reality of the industry.  The weight of the first thirty feet of a standard single hand fly line determines what designation the line will get.  Juice the weight of the line a bit or lengthen the head and it will seem to cast easier.  That little bit of extra weight that will bend the rod more and let's us slow down or stroke.  So the rod makers working on their marketing make the blanks a bit faster. And faster, and faster and faster.   That is what makes the recovery from bent to straight happens quicker.  Denser cloth that is rolled on mandrels and baked that makes a faster action rod.  

What does that do?

These faster rods are a casters dream.  They fly straight, recover quickly, bend less and get the same transfer of energy and handle those slightly heavier lines very well.  Today we are seeing lines that more resemble a Scandi or Skagit than a double taper.

But there is something missing in this equation.  It is the fact that when we have a fish take our fly that wonderful casting tool must change it's persona and become a tool that plays the fish.  

You know what happens when a crazy ten pound Landlocked Salmon or Steelhead is played on an ultra fast action rod with 5x tippet?  Yep, that's right, you say goodbye very quickly with a snapping high pitched sound of fine quality fluorocarbon.  In addition I ask anglers who fish the steelhead run in New York what weight fast action rod they are using.  The most common answer is a seven weight.  A seven weight fast action rod and 4X to 5X tippets.  Then the next statement is, "I don't understand why I am not landing any fish". 

My position is that a fly rod needs to serve as a fishing rod and if that means it will not cast an ultra tight loop yet cast well and land the fish, then that is the correct tool for the job.

After you have had the great fortune to hook and play a number of such fish you will know the range of your equipment's ability.  The only way we are going to see fly rods that are fish playing friendly is because we demand them from the rod makers.  

In order to have such a rod I must build them myself.  I call them SWIMPH rods.  SWIng when you can and nyMPH when you must.    A simple conversion at the loop connection at the end of the line changes the rod system from a nymphing leader rig to poly and versi leader swing.  Ten and a half feet is the longest I will use as casting single hand is also desired without shoulder injury.  Here is a photo of a beautiful twenty four inch Landlocked Salmon and one of my custom rods.  I have 10' 6" four piece 5 wt's as well as some 10' 4" 4 weights with removable bottom grip available now.  Please let me know if you have any interest.  My price with rod, two tips, sock and tube is $325.00.  A great choice in a medium action ultra forgiving rod that handles the new Switch and Chucker style lines for a true switch in function.
 






Monday, October 13, 2014

Swinging The Salmon River

There is a place on the Salmon River in New York that is a fly swinging paradise. It's location is accessed by a very long walk to the lower portion of the Douglaston Salmon Run property. The pool  is called The Meadow Run.  From top to bottom and through a narrow yet deep gut between two islands, it offers the best and most aesthetically pleasing swing you will find on that river.  There are many places on this former Atlantic salmon River that offer a good swing and if you love to cast with two hands a trip to Pulaski will not disappoint.  Just don't let yourself get hung up on the negatives.  

The top of The Meadow is created where a strong rapid quickly becomes a steady flow through the center.   This water is not the best for nymphing or floating.   From that point you can find fish for the entire three hundred yards down river.  Broad and constant flow makes it best suited to the swing.  There are far better locations like upper and lower Clay hole right next door that will give indicator and float what they came for.  The tail flattens and widens to form three separate channels around islands.  The center cut is deep and the lane of choice for most of the migration.  During low water conditions this area below the main pool will receive most of the attention.

The problem with this pool, and all others on the river, is that there is no rotation.  Sometimes it can be down right uncivilized because of all the different methods of legal fishing that are allowed.  The high stick nymphers take the least room, we Spey Boys need more and the Center Pin and Spin rods would float their egg sacks all the way to the lake if they could.  The time when the crowding is most prevalent is first thing in the morning.  Only the least caring are still in bed as the sun comes up.  I get to my designation at least an hour before sun rise and there still can be five anglers standing in the run.  Sad to say, but as true as can be, this is not a gentlemen's sporting river.  By mid day the crowds seem to disperse through the area and opens the door to getting in some quality swinging action.
This past Saturday I was able the hook up two fish on the swing in the lower part of the pool.  Because the location is close to the lake the possibility of a real bright and very large fish becomes clear.   You need to stay with the rhythmic cadence of the swing and make as many quality passes as possible.

Another fine choice would be to find locations in the two fly zones that offer water that is less frequented because of proximity to access points.  You will not find any center pin or spinning rods here.  Most anglers are using indicators and nymphs and there are an increasing number of two hand casters.  In low water these places will be available by crossing and walking.  In higher flows you will need to use one of the bridge crossings and walk.  In some cases you will be the only rod on your side and looking at six to ten on the easy side.

For this river I use marabou collar flies, bunny leach flies with eztaz heads, cut shanks and West Coast style Spey flies.  More traditional West Coast Steelhead and European Temple Dog style flies can be used with a good deal of success.  The water temperature is the key to how well you will do.  The colder the water gets the slower and deeper you will need to run your fly.  Most situations during late October through the first week of December can be handled with Scandi lines and poly leaders.  As the river cools down you will want to switch to a Skagit and might need to go as heavy as t14  at times.  I greatly prefer to use non weighted flies as the action is far better.  It is also much easier to control depth and speed by having the ability to control my line and not have the fly drag on the bottom.  This river loves to eat flies and using weight can take it's toll.

Right now, the crowds have started to thin and the river is loaded with fish.  In normal years the ground would be snow covered and walking made more difficult.  This year, for the two hand fly swinger,  the window of opportunity is still open.  The key to right now is that you can not get hung up on what you think should work.  If big leech and marabou flies are not producing then move smaller down to sparsely hackle more insect looking.  Change flies not only by color but size as well.  Make sure you are running the lightest tippet that you dare.

Many of the Lake Ontario and Lake Eire tribs are producing well right now.  The Salmon River is but one that gets a great deal of attention.  We need to swing more and hope that in the future some of the pools will start to rotate.  I expect the next few weeks will see a lot of action for the few who will make the effort.

William  




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Donation For Project Healing Waters & Hope On The Rise




I have something special to share with you.  I have been entrusted with two matching numbered sets of Pierre Lutz prints from the Grande Cascapedia Series.  Pierre was a five time artist of the year recipient from the Atlantic Salmon Federation.  His work is well known on covers and maps of the great rivers.   Each set of four(4) numbered 66/200 and 67/200 were printed in memory of Pierre as he pass away shortly after their completion.  They are not signed.  The stipulation for me is that they be sold and 100% of the proceeds be donated to charities of my choice.  The beneficiary of set 66 will be Project Healing Waters.  They gave to me and I can give something small back.  The beneficiary of set 67 will be Hope on the Rise.  (Hopeontherise.org) I have met Susan and Mary and what they are doing is special and deserves support.  If you would like to own these beautiful 9 1/4" x 6 1/4" prints ready to be framed please send to FlySpoke@gmail.com your offer and set number desired.  Bidding on these SILENT auctions will close on November 1, 2014 at 10pm Eastern Time.  Winners will then be notified.  Own these depictions of "The Forks", "Bend At Parsons", "Charley Valley Rock" and "Pool Eighty"  Opening bid for each set is $150.00.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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