Tuesday, May 21, 2013

International Federation Of Fly Fishers Certified Two Hand Casting Instructor

For the past three years I have been working toward being certified by The International Federation Of Fly Fishers to become a two hand casting instructor.  Many, many hours of learning and practice with the goal of this achievement have been spent.  Now that I have passed this test, I am left with the feeling that I want more.  Let me explain.

I feel as though I have the responsibility to live up to standards that are still above me.  I was tested by Al Buhr.  How will I ever achieve that standard?  Even though I am now in a group of only thirty others in the United States with this status I am still humbled by the meaning.

While I was on my way to North Carolina, for examination, I received an email from Gordy Hill that Bob Runpf had passed.  I was just with Bob a month ago at the Catskill Fly Fishing Muesum working with Wild Trout Flyrodders.  Bob was casting and I was watching and noticing how fluid and clean he was with the fly rod.  Sadly, I missed his presentation as I was being pre tested for THCI by Jim Valle.  The reason I mention this is because it put reality and the importance of our lives in perspective.  Not only was Bob a great caster but he was a great person with many people who are touched by the loss.

So, for me, I acknowledge that I am on a new path.  Not the end, as I once thought. I am now placed in the position of responsibility to be what I am titled as being.  I promised Al I would live up to the standards required and intend to do just that.


Joining the International Federation Of Fly Fishers will offer you a group of anglers who have the passion and desire to learn, teach and share all they know.  I am proud to be a member, Single and two hand instructor and will be so until I make my last cast.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Saco River And The Dry Fly

The weather can be a mixed bag of what you can always count on in the Saco Valley flowing through North
Conway for Mid June.  The river, with head waters at the foot of Mount Washington has a rugged start and flows through New Hampshire, pushing east in Maine and enters the Atlantic at it's namesake on the coast.  Showers, sun, wind, cold and warm are a possible part of any day.  Each year at this time I make sure that the gin clear waters are in my schedule.  I fish a number of single days and could easily make it a week long destination.

This river has all the ingredients necessary to make it one of the finest quality trout streams in the world except one.  It does not have enough low temperature input to sustain  a large population of trout through the warming summer.  But don't let that stop you from enjoying the magic of the Saco's season.  Just looking at this fly chart supplied by North Country Angler will assure you that the river is a very futile environment.  This well stocked shop has a high level of knowledge and can arrange top notch licensed guide service as well.

I show  up in the morning with the intention to refine a bit of my dry fly skill.  For me, this is the part of the game that holds the most satisfaction as well as necessary ability.  Even though the trout are hatchery raised they will get acclimated and turn fussy quickly.  This is not a river that I have the ability to walk in and hit the correct fly immediately.  This is a river where you make your approach in the Gary LaFontaine way where you sit and observe first.  You must always be watching for change and rest assured that change can happen quickly.

Last year on a Friday morning I started with a fine Brown Trout of seventeen inches or more.  I make it a habit to look into the river to see what is happening.  What I saw were the dead mayflies floating down with clear wings.  You may not make the correct choice every time but at least you have the possibilities.   I learned later that the spinner fall was amazing the evening before. The morning fish can also be fooled with size 16 Adams, Red Quills and Yellow Sally's.  One thing needs to be made clear, this is a tough river at times and what worked yesterday, let alone last year might not today.

On Saturday morning I started where I left off the evening before.  What I had learned condensed my fly choices and proved far more successful.  Working small and making frequent changes was the order of the day.   Blue Wing Olive, Adams, Red Quill, Yellow Sally, Rusty Spinner and Black Woolly Buggers accounted for most of the connections.  The comparadun style worked particularly well followed by parachutes.

As the head lamps came on I hooked my last fish of the day.  I had worked this fish a number of times and interest with rejection was the pattern.  This was a real nice size Brown that was as large as the stocking truck had delivered.  I picked out the smallest Parachute Adams with an orange post that was in my box.  The fish rose and sipped the fly and was solidly hooked.   The charge was instantaneous and quick, directly across the pool  making my reel scream with delight.  And then nothing.

Now, I really don't like leaving hooks in fish.  I am always using larger tippet sizes than many anglers and only when I can not get the tippet into the eye of what is needed will I go smaller.  I find that I am still able to take as many fish as anyone else but I land a far greater percentage.  For whatever reason, my tippet did not hold and ,being content with a long day on the river, I called it an evening.

The Saco is as close to perfect as you can get here in the east.  Some say the kayaks and canoe hatch is a problem but I watch the boats go by and the trout start feeding before the wake has left the water.  They don't schedule drop offs very early or late and leave the best of the day's events from disturbance.  The people do apologize way too much.

Give yourself one full day if you can.  This is a river in the most pleasing of surroundings that should not be missed.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Balance Of Power Or The Power Of Balance

So I have been practicing about three to four hours a day right now. Today I did a five and a half hour session with a 15 foot 9 Weight Robert Meiser Highlander S. Crazy rod with some of the finest craftsmanship I have ever had the privilege to cast. I lined it with a 9/10 65 foot head Carron Jetstream. The reel is an original Loop Evotec made by Danialson. If you are familiar with those reels you know they were known for how lite they are. Really not a very good Spey reel.

Anyway, I have been working on the physics between balance and power or a class one lever. Kind of like if you had a sea saw out of balance it would take extra power to move the longer side. Less weight having to move a heavier and longer shaft. Each and every two hand rod we own has a different balance point given the weight of reel and line. Take any of your rods, strip off the amount of line that you most often use with that rod and then find the balance point. It might surprise you that it will not be even on the top grip. In my case it was three inches over the top grip today. I thought about how I could balance the rod for my practice and the electrical tape I used to secure the furls came in handy.

Balance each reel with lead core, if you must, to force the fulcrum point to exactly where you want it to be. It should be at the fulcrum or your top hand placement on the rod. Then give the rod a go and you will not believe the power you will generate with such little force.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Catch & Release Is A Learned Art

This Photo has not been altered.  It was taken after dark on
the Matapedia River in Quebec.  There is a 25lb. salmon being
released and never touched.

What started as catch and release is ever evolving. Today we are saying live release. Tomorrow who knows what the correct saying will be. This is a controversy that I will leave for another day.
But what about those seconds or minutes between the catch and the live release that we can learn to control. I find myself standing and watching anglers with good intentions struggle to remove hooks with barbs, hold fish too tightly and have a three minute photo session. Take two please.
I know that there were times when I have been guilty of not being competent or caring enough to dispatch my fish without harm. I have killed one large salmon on purpose and will continue to take a grilse or trout from time to time. There is nothing like a shore lunch with the fish you captured a half hour ago. Say three Our Fathers and three Hail Mary's. Done.
In order to do our best, limit guilt and increase survival, we need to learn the release part of angling because timing means everything to the life of our fish.
Make sure to use a live release net on fish of size. Fish have a protective slime coat that if removed will cause infections. Always wet your hands if you must use them. On smaller fish do not touch the fish at all. This is possible by using barb free hooks. Knowing that my hooks do not have barbs allows me to remove the hook without fear. Hold your fish out of the water for as short a time as possible because the change in weight differential can be very harmful. Do not put a fish down on snow or ice as their skin will freeze. The photo session is the most damaging and critical part of your live release. For a while now I have not been worrying about photos of my fish captured. If I do, I try to make them all part of the process to let the fish go. If the hook is removed and the fish is ready to be released, keep it in the water. Ready, set, lift low, snap, down and gone. You can make this prized photo with one second out of water so long as you and your partner understand the process. Let your photographer use his camera that he knows well and you will get the best results.
The last note is on revival. The old adage of holding a fish by the tail and moving back and forth needs to be put to rest. I still see people do this today. The only revival method you should use is to hold your fish still and straight into the current while supporting their weight. In still water the only movement must be forward holding very lightly. The fish will tell you when it is time to go.
Part of the reason for our live release practice can be summed up best by Lee Wulff. "A fish is too valuable to only be caught once" I agree.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Please Welcome A New Sponsor R.B. Meiser Fly Rods

If you ever have the opportunity to cast the Two Hand and Switch rods made by Robert Meiser you will understand how fine a fishing tool should be.