Friday, August 22, 2014

This Is A Fish To Remember

A late start had me jumping up to get the coffee brewing.  Emily forgot to set the alarm and in a daze I was moving faster than I should.  After coffee delivery to help get her day started, my next duty was to get the dog out so all could be complete before we were to leave for her half hour commute.  Her to work and me to deal with a car situation needed for the weekends Spey classes and fishing.

My phone rang.

Still half asleep, I was being asked by Leo to make a drive north.  Snap, Crackle, Pop and my mind was issued that little spark of adrenaline needed to say let's go. Leo and I have fished together many days.  Not many of us can fish shoulder to shoulder and cover the same water together like we can.  Crossing lines, perfectly timed synchronization in casts and drifts and a whole lot of fish.  The kind of team work that some would not be able to mentally accept.  Kenny knows exactly what I am talking about as he has the same ability and tempo of calm character.  We fished away the day.  Leo took a nice salmon early and all was well.

There are certain fish that we remember and most that we forget.  They have the ability to live with us for a long time and today I would add another to the mix.  This sole fish I landed today was not the largest Landlocked Salmon in the pool but one to ponder.

I had been alternating all day between swinging with streamers or cut shanks and nymphing.  So far the only action, for me, was to the nymphs and it was three fish on and three fish gone.  All dropped hooks as runs and jumps made for some long line releases to safety.  Then about four o'clock the indicator went down hard and I could immediately tell a decent fish had taken my #12 Red Head Prince as I raised my rod quickly. The first move was to sulk but only for a moment.  Then the search for escape sent my line humming up river and through the rapid that enters the pool.  A continual thrashing back and forth with one big jump and burst of speed brought the fish back to center stage.  Then the long run all the way to the farthest reaches of the back eddy under some hanging willows.  What I fear most with these crazy fish started to happen.  They are notorious for exiting down river and not stopping.  Using the strong current below the pool wanting to go back to the lake and fining their nose at you as they do.

As the down stream movement started to take solid hold I said over and over "no, not down, please, no, not down'"  and I simply didn't wait for the fish to get below me.  I ran along the open area of the bank till I was locked up against a big rock that blocked my movement.  The fish was still moving down.  Immediately, and I mean instantaneously, I threw line off my reel letting the swift current of the tail out set a bag of tension as if the danger was now coming from down stream.  The salmon was so close to spilling over and out of the pool and thankfully responded to the tension and began swimming back up river.  I have used technique many times on big fish.  Never has the hook dislodged as if slack were being introduced into the system.  A few more runs away from Leo holding the net and heads up it was over.

I just love fall salmon fishing.  Everything is changing yet there is this constant beat of the river.  I don't remember many fish but this one gave me something to cherish.  Hard to explain what, I just accept it as truth of feeling alive today sharing a day with a dear friend and I remember those days that have a complete story to tell.


Friday, August 15, 2014

A Match Made In Heaven-Choosing The Fly First Will Help It Happen

One of the hardest things to have dialed in is that perfect matched system.  Where fly, tippet, leader, line and rod are all perfectly coordinated to our personal ability for one exacting set of circumstances and conditions.

Today in order to try a line we must buy one.  Put it on the rod we think is right and will more than likely be wrong.  I am having to deal with this dilemma all the time.  Let's try to get a bit more familiar with how we can make some better choices.

The Fly
Most of us will go to the store and buy our first fly rod prior to knowing and understanding what it will be used for.  I see it all the time.  "I have a", seems to be the constant first three words out of everyone's mouth.  A fly rod is a lever that we then manipulate to act as a spring by moving the lever in a way that transfers energy from our body to the rod.  Not just any energy as if I took the rod and shook it vigorously back and forth.  No, not any transfer but a controlled transfer of energy in a way that will most effectively continue that transfer of energy to a fly line.  Then in turn continue a smooth transfer to the leader and tippet and then that precious of precious lures at the end of the system.  The Fly.

So, it is that projectile that dictates the requirement of necessary transferred energy to present it in a way that is most pleasing to the target.  If the target were two pound bass yet the required stimuli was a deer hair mouse, would the size of the fish determine the correct lever as spring and be the appropriate delivery tool, or would it be that big, heavy and wind resistant fly?  Does the fish require an ulta light tippet?

This is why the fly comes first in our equipment choice as matching and correctly using the fly is the key factor in making the catch.

The Knot
When this topic comes up there is always one angler in the crowd who says, "I have been using a clinch knot my entire life and it has always worked just fine, I have no reason to change knots".  And I then say, "the reason you think it has be just fine is because you don't know better".  And then I catch myself and realize that that angler had no reason to change.  His choice met the requirements for all his needs.   But that said, given the choice would you use a knot that had 70% strength or one that worked in the same way at 100%?  One that lets you fly pull straight on the swing or cantor?  One that offers movement or restricts movement.

Learning many knots is a critical part of how we fish.  We must ask the question of how do we need our fly to swim in order to get that strike.  Fish have impulse triggers and knowing how and what they are including how they eat will be helpful.

The Tippet
Now we start to have some additional choice.  If we think the fly is right, for a certain target and condition, and we know the knot that will offer the best presentation, then the tippet is of great importance as to how that perfect morsel will be presented.

Most of us think it is all about the X factor.  Well, that might be a good part of the story but the Y factor is far more important.    Lets take a size 32 CDC midge dry.  The river is crystal clear and has moderate flow.  You can see the trout and if not careful the trout can see, feel, hear and smell you.  Now let's imagine the trout is in the five pound category.  A size 32 is going to require an 8x tippet or a 7x depending on what brand you choose.  The difference in tippet strength between these two choices is a very big percentage.  First, you need to do your homework and research tippet material. They are not all made the same and I use certain brands down to certain rivers.  Mono-filament, Fluorocarbon, co-polymer, coated, abrasion resistant, limp, firm, floating, sinking, clear and opaque. Knowing the Y factor as to "why" and when you would choose a certain tippet will be determined by the target, fly and condition.

Leader and Line
For me, the leader will be a seamless connection to my fly line.  What leader I choose is directly associated to how and why I have chosen my fly and tippet.  I use the word seamless because I try my best to deal with the transfer of energy from line through leader as science.  Having a butt section that is too large or too small has consequences.

Today we have so many options to make for this important connection.  Many lines come with fused loop to loop ability so Poly and Versi leaders can be used. Dry fly angling with a 2wt will require a different approach.

Matching the diameter of the butt section of the required leader will offer some reasoning for your line choice.  I ask the basic question as to what is needed to fuel the front end to determine my line choice. Then only then can I decide on the style of line.  From Double Taper through Skagit there are more decisions to make than most of us can imagine.  Think how enormous the range of capabilities can be. Mountain streams to steel-head in the Pacific North West to Sailfish in blue water.  Endless, isn't it?

The Rod  
Now it becomes final decision time.  My question is always going to be "What rod will cast the system with ease, efficiency and accuracy and at the same time effectively handle the target".  Fast, medium, slow, tip flex, through the grip flex, single, switch or two hand as well as length and weight are all determined by the fly, target and condition.  What would over or underlining do in a small river setting? At this moment we realize that the starting point in your next rod purchase needs to have greater thought.  It is an exacting science that starts at the beginning. A fly rod is not singularly a casting tool or a fish playing tool.  It is more than that as it is a fishing rod that can complete the task start to finish efficiently .

I realize that I have not given any conclusions as to choice.  I didn't teach you how to tie one knot.  My goal is to put it out there that we have choices that can be made with learning.

I am not standing in your river or ocean and looking at the conditions.  I have no idea what you require. But I can tell you that the more you learn about all the possibilities and have the knowledge to make these choices, your casting will improve and your catch will increase.  Anglers study their environment and locations intently so when fishing the only thing necessary is exercising our instinct, acquired skill and prowess to make the catch.