Sunday, March 24, 2024

"The Perfect Cast Is The One That Gets My Fly From The Time It Stops Fishing To Fishing Again In The Shortest Amount Of Time"

Al Buhr said that.  I have spent the last ten years fishing and casting by this fundamental statement.  Not a statement that defines any style or method of fishing.  Please allow me to set up what it means this 'Fishing Or Not Fishing'.

Each and every fish species that is the target of an angler, has a certain trigger that gets a bite response.  The idea is to know these triggers and then present the lure so it is in "bite mode" as soon as your bait hits the water.  This is the first part.  The second part is to manipulate the line to make the lure act in it's targeting way.

When we get to the end of what will make the bite happen we start the third factor.  The time between not fishing and fishing again.

I don't practice when fishing. 

Time moves so quickly when we become good casters.  The effort of practice as will as seeking out a quality instructor can make the total difference between good days and great ones.

"Just think about the target and hit the bullseye every time."

I said that.........

Saturday, July 29, 2023

 For the first time since Covid, I ventured over the border and landed myself on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and the Margaree River.  I booked two weeks from June 23 to July 7 opening a large enough window for a few better possible days.

I have been loving this valley ever since my first visit in 1974 with the only difference in timing.  I made many trips in October but only a few for the summer run.  The summer run will now get my entire focus.

With all salmon angling, there are no guarantees to have the conditions be good or the timing be correct.  The fish run the river when the timing is right for them and no date can be so exact that the connection will be made.  But, this time I could not have been more perfect.

I booked these two weeks over eight months ago.  Previous trips have proved that the first week of July has fish moving well so long as the river condition has water.  During the entire two weeks there was only one substantial rain event.  The water just kept going down every day with heat making for some uncomfortable days.   Good timing with a large enough window is the most important factor to planning any salmon trip on any river.  

So, there is the set up.  Here is the conclusion.  How your fly swims is the key.

With wet fly I made it a mission to cast on the 45 and never mend.  Force the fly to move at a slightly faster pace than the flow.  With the dry fly the dead drift working each pool as a checker board with three to six foot drifts was my goal.   No false casting, no splashing around, no long casts, no heavy lines, no short leaders, no standing on top of the fish, no huge flies, no wasting time between casts.  

"The Perfect Cast Is The Cast That Gets My Fly From The Time It Stops Fishing To Fishing Again In The Least Amount Of Time".  Al Buhr

I fish by this wisdom as deliberately as possible every second it is my turn through the rotation.  If the Atlantic Salmon is the fish of a thousand casts then I want my one thousand casts to be achieved in the least amount of time during my angling day.

Purposeful casts that are correct to trigger a take and as many of them in a day as possible is the object of the game.  If we are capable to perfect casting and presentation to the highest level then so long as the river is kind and the fish are there our competence will offer rewards.


Sunday, March 26, 2023

The FlySpoke Custom Shop

I started  building rods because, twenty years ago, what I wanted was not made by any commercial manufacturer.   I wanted a rod that was strong enough for casting buggers and streamers, and at the same time, soft and light  enough to use very light tippet in nymphing and dry fly.  The target was trout and landlocked salmon in the North East USA.
The concept is that I can take a 10'0" single hand rated blank, add a 4" extension to the bottom and create a rod that would change between nymphing, dry fly and swinging by changing only the tippet.
I called it a Swi-Mph.
Now I had a fishing tool that could be a day on the river and ready for most any situation.  Back then the lines needed to be created.  Cutting and splicing heads to running lines and experimenting with trimming Spey lines has me now using the items that companies like RIO, OPST and others are manufacturing as standard lines.

Now, had I called this rod a Trout Spey or an American Nymphing Rod I might have made the lexicon of today's angling focus.

Just a few years back I started to build and sell my rods.   I have learned that the diversity in style of angling is so substantial.  And I am very grateful to be building so many of them.

  Here are a few recent builds.  Please visit  

Glass In Single & Two Hand Style

Casting Surf & Inshore

Spey-Trout Spey-Switch

Float - Micro Float


Fly Rods


Monday, February 27, 2023

Angling Choice

 I realize that this could be stepping on a land mine.  None the less what I think is very true.  

Today we have evolved our fly fishing game to the point of why do we use fly style rods and reels for what is obviously not fly fishing in the origins sense of weightless presentation?   

Ask anyone over the age of fifty about "Chuck And Duck.  Go ahead.  You will be told it is the art of using a weight connected to leader to bounce the bottom so that a lessor weight fly can lead the way to the fishes mouth.  It was called "Chuck And Duck" because the weights being thrown became so heavy over time that bouncing it on the bottom meant lifting out of every rock hold.  It was deadly and especially the favorite way to fish on Great Lakes steelhead tributaries.  

For a time, it was even legal in the fly only sections.  Today, the slinkies made from nylon para cord and filled with weights have given way to a weighted fly.   

If you think I am sounding negative about Euro style angling I am sorry for the misconception.  I know how effective the style can be and if used in legal ways is no different than any other legal method to catch fish.  

Let's go back to my original thought.  Why are we using a fly rod and fly reel to do this form of angling?  I understand that in competition it is a requirement for certain equipment but not on your local stream.  If using the most effective way is the goal then why?   To fish legally in fly only water we must use fly gear and fly line without regulation on leader length.   You might understand how those cutting back the fly line and having a 30 foot leader might seem a bit dubious.  

But if you really want the most effective form of bouncing flies in a perfect drift with river flow then the Micro Trout Float or Spin set up will be your choice in all but those fly fishing only waters.  Micro float is much more effective in getting into locations and not be walking through sensitive eco systems.  I have watched anglers walk through spawning beds to get over to the next spawning bed.

How about we take one style of rod.  An eleven foot carbon three weight with a specially designed two weight tip for sensitivity.  Perfect Euro, Perfect Float, Perfect Spin.  Now depending upon the style and location of the reel seat will really be the only factor in rod design.  

Casting - There is no doubt that from a casting standpoint the spinning reel is going to offer the easiest cast from short to distance.  No overhead style is needed.  Just a pendulum underhand flip.  Then the use of an indicator and belly weighted fly line.  Then using a spinning reel with float.  Then a centrepin and finally a fly reel with mono rig. 

Presentation - Fish want our flies moving exactly as an object would move if no line were attached with no added weight.  I think that being able to control speed and direction is of greatest importance and here is where the Euro method shines.  Limited drag on line and placement directly where the fish will be is key.  We are far more connected to having the leader and flies moving exactly how the fish wants.  At the same time using the float with pin or spin offers the ability to set a perfect depth and have exacting laminar drift exactly with the current.  Float weights and weight set up does this perfectly.  The long drift means more fishing time and less casting time.  Using the indicator method does a bit of both but no where near as effective as the float or pin.  

Ecology - We all can agree that any form of angling has ecological consequences.  Line, weights and hooks are all lost by us all.  The only factor that bothers me about working with such short connection is walking through streams to access as many possible locations as possible.  I also know that we as anglers understand this and all try to stay off the redds, move as few rocks as possible and climb in and out with the least effect on bank erosion.  

Fish Hooking - The great advantage to Euro Nymphing is the direct contact to the take.  I have done experiments watching landlocked salmon take a fly in their mouths and instantly spit it out.  I never felt a thing.  With Euro you are in direct contact with that feel and the best chance of knowing to set a hook.  All other forms of float and indicator rely on sight and that is never immediate.  

Condition - To me, the conditions make for obvious choices.  Target fish, deep water, big rivers, high and fast, low and slow flows and hot or cold temperatures all make our style choices.  

In conclusion, I am of the firm belief that we all choose the style of angle we like and that your personal preference is the right choice.  If mine is the swing and and yours the dry fly who am I to change your mind. 


Monday, August 9, 2021

Reel Seats Are A Key Component To Your Fly Casting Practice

I started building reel seats this past week.  I have made some over the past few years, but not with the attention and diversity of resources I have collected today.  I think it is a great addition to our CTS and FlySpoke Blanks, Builders Kits and Custom Rods.

But.........when making the above photo group I realized that it was a perfect teaching segment.  I think using the reel seat as our focal point, we are watching the most important location for practice with both single and two hand disciplines.  

Let's take the first photo on the left as the time after the back cast and while we are pausing waiting for the back cast to unfurl.  If you then keep the angle of the rod the same for the first 70% of a forward cast what do you think is going to happen?  You know that old adage, "The Line Follows The Tip Of The Rod?   That's right, the tightest front loop cast you have ever tossed.

I am not the creator of this concept.  I do know that I am one of the few professional instructors who talks about Jim Green and "Pull Rod Straight".  I received this gift in casting from Al Buhr.  Al received it directly from Jim.  

In your head and with pantomime,  practice this and say to yourself    PullPullPullPullPullPull-Rotate as you slowly cast forward and back.  Watch the reel seat as you slowly move the rod.  Checking the angle?  Then you go to a back cast and PullPullPullPullPull-Rotate, in the opposite direction.   Now do it at half speed.   And half speed again.  Do it with just the bottom section as slowly as you possible can making sure your mind is in control.

OK here it is again PullPullPullPullPullPull-Rotate.  When the rod is moved with the reel seat not changing angle it is called Translation.  When the rod angle is changing during a casting stroke it is called Rotation.

Let's go farther.

Think about what a fly rod is and does.  Thick at one end and skinny at the other.  A linier tube structure, as a lever, that reduces in diameter, acting like a spring when moved, to preform a function. From the power of our bodies creating energy transferred to rod then line then leader and fly we direct this to happen in a certain way that places our lure with an exacting water entry and then movement the target requires.

PullPullPullPullPullPull-Rotate     Makes tight loop presentations.  

PullPullPullPullRotateRotate-Rotate  Makes wider loop presentations

PullRotateRotateRotateRotate-Rotate  Makes very wide or non loop presentations

This same principal is in place for using two handed rods.  The largest difference is how and where the power will be generated.  In single hand we use body mass rotation, lateral weight transfer and dominant arm movement.  In two hand the upper hand on the fore grip is creating a fulcrum.   A fulcrum to be used as a pivot point to bend the rod at that fulcrum and using the efficiency of body mass rotation, lateral weight transfer and bottom off hand power.  

The physics are similar in function and principle with a different way to apply power.  The end result is the same.  You are creating the size and style of front loop desired for that moment in time by how the reel seat travels.     

All casts are good casts.  All casts have a certain function.  All casts catch fish.  Now use the above information to make your loop of choice happen.  




Tuesday, September 29, 2020



 "As a highly specialized and engineering-oriented blank manufacturer, we often get asked about materials, and what are truly the best fabrics for making blanks".  

CTS Fishing New Zealand  

A number of you have asked about graphene lately - here's the lowdown as I can gather. 

Graphene was the name given to a single layer of connected carbon atoms when they were first observed in the 1960's. It is made, in elementary terms, by removing or 'peeling' a single layer of atoms, off a lump or sheet of graphite.


The current commercial industry practice within the recreational composites market is to mix a small amount of graphene flakes, commonly called Nanopowder, into the resin that makes the carbon fiber epoxy impregnated material (prepeg) that fishing blanks are made from.

CTS investigated graphene as an additive to our resin system some years ago. We found no evidence that adding graphene nanopowder to the epoxy resin improved any of the characteristics we were looking for in a material for fishing rods.

Conversely, we found evidence that adding more than 10% nanopowder to the epoxy matrix, increases its brittleness. In a fishing rod we rely on toughened epoxy resin systems to distribute impact shocks, protect the laminate and support the fiber in compression. 

One of the main benefits of adding graphene nano powder to composite materials is to improve electrical conductivity. Naturally, not something we're particularly wanting to do with fishing rods!

We concluded that adding a bit of graphene to our resins might be good for the marketing department and our ability to sell a higher priced product, but marginally detrimental to performance.

CTS is at the forefront of any developments in the composite industry. We attend trade shows around the world in search of the latest advances in both materials, equipment and procedures. 

Our in-house test lab provides us with real world data, with testing specific to our requirements. It's where we constantly ask the question: "Does it improve on what we have?" 

We live and breathe our 'Hooked on Technology' mantra. With CTS, you can be assured you are getting the best, most advanced blanks in the world. 

CTS is about Performance. Pure. Simple.

At we proudly sell CTS blanks and use CTS blanks for our custom builds.  You will not find better from any maker of fine quality fly rod blanks.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Fly Rod Power And How It Transfers To The Fly

Fly rods are very simple primitive tools.  They have two key factors that enhance our ability to make them transfer power to energy and complete a work output.  For this discussion I will limit the details to single hand fly rods.  Two handed rods have additional information needed and because they originate in a different way, we will need to talk about them in another post.

First, is the bending power that is generally referred to as the weight.  The rod is bent while casting and un bends when the cast stops.  Our body creates power that is transferred as energy to the rod and then transferred at the tip top to the line.  Every rod has a certain amount of weight, that it can withstand, when bending before it will fail and break.  The tube will go out of round and collapse.  Hence, a 3 weight will accept less bent weight than an 8 weight.  

Fly line companies are governed by The American Fly Fishing Trade Association(AFFTA) as to the total grain weight of the first thirty feet of a fly line.  Yes, as you can see on the attached chart, there is a range. 

So, the obvious reason for having this knowledge would be to make appropriate line choices.  A very key factor that this chart does not take into focus is the length of the head itself.  It really only deals with a static thirty feet.  What we need to do is know what our casting day will be.

Let's say you will be fishing a very small brook and your casts will only be in the twenty foot range.  In this case you will want the weight of the line to be in the first twenty feet so extra power will not be required to bend the rod.  Some anglers will step up a line weight in this condition.  Then there is the opposite condition.  We are casting sixty to seventy five feet with a long head line where extra weight is always out of the tip.  Now a reduction in the weight of the first thirty feet might be required.  Having the fly line industry dictate to the fly rod industry the bending and breaking strength of our equipment can only be for it's stated condition.  Thirty Feet.   It helps to know the weight of a line before making the purchase.

The second factor is the speed that the rod will recover to straight.  This determines the action classification.   When I am fishing for striped bass I go extra fast.  For trout a slower rod is advisable.  Tippet and fish size can be your guide for a rods action choice. 

Today we have so many line and rod choices.  At The FlySpoke Shop, we build most rods for specific use and condition.  We still have the 9'0" 5 weight customer but so many are now fishing in Euro and single hand Spey swinging styles that require advantage in the rod length  and tip temper.  

A great advantage we have is the custom ability for creating reduction rods.  Most are ten to eleven feet and range between three and seven weights.  These blanks also work as float centerpin rods.  It's having the tip be reduced that makes for light tippet possibilities.  For these rods I use switch style lines that have forward belly weight so overhead casting is not required.  

How we manipulate a fly rod is determined by the condition of the moment.  How we achieve the optimal for that moment is determined by choices.  It all starts with the fly and moves up the system with the rod last.  The fly is the lure.     

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Bobber Down

Over the last six months I have started building high quality Float Rods using CTS Blanks.  It started out using the blanks CTS sells.  A range between thirteen and fifteen feet.

These blanks are wonderful for larger rivers and larger fish like King Salmon and Steelhead.  What FlySpoke has added are three distinctive eleven foot blanks to be used as Micro to Ultra Micro Trout Float Rods.

Because float fishing requires a flip of weight and bobber, it is important that the tip section of the rod be able to bend and flip a float.  Also the tip section needs to be able to play larger fish on light tippets.

We created three blanks for this purpose.  All are eleven feet.  Because they were derived from fly blanks lets talk in  those terms.  In addition to being float blanks they make incredible Euro nymphing rods.  They are also included in our CTS Affinity X collections.  The base is three, four and five weight with the tip section reduced by one weight.  So they become 5/4, 4/3 and 3/2.

If you have any interest in Float, Centerpin or Euro Nymph fishing please visit us at

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fly Rod Action

To understand the required action of a fly rod we must first know the fish we target.  That fish is going to require a certain fly to entice a take and that fly dictates will tell a story.

Let's imagine we are chasing some larger trout in a clear moderate flowing river where a size sixteen soft hackle is the go to presentation.  Our first part of the puzzle will be to determine the strongest tippet size possible and weather to choose mono filament or fluorocarbon.  Each has different properties and how much light is available can influence our choice.  In addition we need to observe the depth that the fish are feeding.  I have a basic rule followed that tends to have me using mono at or close to the surface and flouro the deeper I go.

This choice has to do with the ability of light to travel through mono as a fiber optic where flouro is not.  The mono will glow in the darkness of depth.

After choosing the material of my leader and tippet, I now choose the strongest I think will allow my fly to act the most natural possible.  Here is where the relationship between fish and rod action occurs.   The lighter the tippet required the softer the action required.  Having a fast action rod in this situation could prove fatal in a few different respects.

First, when a larger trout makes a fast spurt the tip of the rod will offer too much resistance and place additional stress to the tippet by not bending easily enough as well as springing back to straight too quickly.  By far the better tool would be a medium fast or medium action fly rod.  Second, having to fear bring breaking off a larger fish for release it becomes a longer event when we know that sudden movements cause tippet breakage.  On the other hand when fishing for Stripped Bass with an eighteen pound tipped I want the fast action or even X-Fast.  No worries about tipped strength verses rod action.

I know that fast action fly rods have been the rage dictated by marketing.  Don't be fooled that you need a fast action rod to cast well as learning how to manipulate a fiberglass soft action fly rod will have that soft hackle fly undulating in the current like a mayfly rising to be free.

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.


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

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

FlySpoke Custom Fly Rods

You can check out all the CTS blanks and builds at

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  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.


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