Follow along if you will. Down the rabbit hole ...
Follow along if you will. Down the rabbit hole ...
I'm hoping that winter stays away for a while yet, because a friend and I have plans to go to Rügen to fish pike for 3-4 days with Bernd, which I'm really looking forward to.
Winter has arrived. It started snowing. For me that is a clear sign to get going with fly tying. That´s my way to adjust to the cold & dark season. sure, winter has it´s good sides and days, but just the transition is very hard as I feel I have not have had enough time to flyfish, even though I did it all summer. Still, it was not enough. So I get to the tying desk ... and dream about all the fish I will catch with the flies ;-)
Looking at the many FB posts recently from exotic shores has resulted in James and I discussing our target species for the next year as we’ve already booked to go back to the Bahamas in Spring 2018. Primarily my target for our salt water trip is to catch a large shark, that is not just hook and play one (as I have previously done) but actually get it to shore and have a photo with it (and not lose it due to the leader being cut somehow). I also want a big barracuda; I have caught many small ones but have yet to hook and catch, what James calls, a decent sized one, typically above 10lbs. Once they get to this size they are extremely difficult as they’ve seen many lures and flies and have probably been caught more than once.
I can't remember when I had my last none fly fishing day. So things are just about right!
Last Friday, November 11, I got down to Everglades National Park for another look around. Hurricane Irma hit on September 10. Considering it has only been two months some things are recovering nicely. The park itself is now open 24 hours a day which is a new return to normal. Only a week ago the public could not enter until 7 AM and had to be out before 7 PM. I’m guessing, but I would suspect that change was primarily to appease the anglers as there are no facilities or campgrounds functioning yet. Only the anglers were bothered by the 7 AM opening: it is 40 miles to the boat ramps from the main gate so, at best, anglers were on the water around 8, which is well past sunrise. The hard-core anglers and guides prefer to launch in the dark to be fishing when the sky lightens. Environmentally, there are signs of recovery also. Some mangrove trees, the ones along the sides of the raised roadbeds, the canal margins, and the river shores are flushing out with regrowth leaves. I say some because there are different species of mangroves and those that grow on higher ground (the Black Mangrove and the White Mangrove) are the ones that appear to be recovering. The Red Mangrove, the iconic species with spiderlike roots, that grows at the lowest elevation, usually right in the water, does not appear to be sprouting new leaves. If that is the case, and it was predictable, it is really bad news. The Red Mangrove is a cornerstone species of the entire food chain. During the 1960’s the Park’s main biologist was Frank C. Craighead, Sr. He started to write a book to describe the trees and plant communities in the Park, but he was distracted by two large hurricanes the pummeled the Park (Donna and Betsy). His book, in turn, documented quite a bit of the initial and subsequent environmental devastation. During that period large swaths of Red Mangrove were unable to recover due to inches of Florida Bay mud that was spread by the storm surge. When the mud settled it strangled the mangrove roots by starving them of oxygen. Irma and Donna had almost identical paths across Florida. Hopefully, the unnaturally heavy rains during and since Irma will have washed much of that mud away. Fishing wise, things are also looking up. TA and I managed to find a good number of juvenile snook. These fish were only one or two-year-olds, and although not trophies they were a very welcomed sight. South Florida was hit by a devastating freeze in 2010 and the snook stock suffered a severe decline. These little guys are a sign of good spawns during the last two years. Juvi snook were once considered a plague, and then for a while, they were AWOL. Other good news is we found some large tarpon, and I even got one to eat, but we will not talk about the rest here. The sad results probably would be better discussed in the knot thread on board. We drove out of the Park during daylight. No matter how many times I drive that road I am always in awe and learn something new. This trip even caused me to chuckle…
James’ recent knot tests have made me think about our next saltwater holiday and about our preparation for that trip. Besides improving our tackle by using stronger knots, albeit ones that are quick and easy to tie on a windy flat, we also need a lot of flies since we are away for six weeks this time. Having previously agreed to have a go by tying at least one saltwater fly, I have considered that maybe whilst I am recovering from my arm injury, I might tie a few more. It’ll give me something to do as I’m not fishing and hardly casting at the moment.
Last week we had a blast on Rügen island. We caught more than 300 pike with our guests within 6 fishing days. It truly was a catching-week. Pike were in their best feeding mood!
I’m back from my humbling yet exceptional trout fishing trip up to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If trips are graded on the number or size of the fish caught, well… thankfully they are not! Truth is I am almost clueless on how to catch trout, and I proved it, but I do know when I am enjoying myself, and without a doubt, I had a blast. Actually, on the first night, at our “last supper” as we called it, when we were in this historic old Inn and enjoying their delicious dinner (and maybe the fine beer from the local microbrew a bit too much), I found myself out of breath and unable to talk since I was laughing so hard at a funny story I was recounting. Obviously, I can crack myself up. I don’t even remember if my fishing partner was laughing or not, just that I was, already, probably having too good of a time. I usually try to refrain from making a public spectacle of myself, but the fact that the dining room was packed with a full complement of stodgy old grey haired yacht club types only made the situation that much more hysterical.
Matt wrote an excellent FP yesterday on the mess that the old AFTMA system has become. And it really is complete nonsense, labelling a line that weighs an 8WT at 30 feet as a 6WT? And the problem is two fold IMO 1) most anglers shop rod first and then look for a line to match and 2) the level of casting amongst many irregular anglers can be pretty abysmal. And so there you have it, crappy casters buying rods that are too stiff, consequently many line manufacturers make lines that are now heavier than standard... where will it end? One thing I disagree with in Matt's FP is that if you are regularly making short casts you should (or can) use a heavier line. This is simply not true, a well-designed flyrod will be comfortable flicking just the leader around and should feel very nice with a short length of the correct AFFTA line weight outside the tip - assuming (and this is the problem) that the caster has the ability to modify his stroke. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you feel the need to upline your rod in order to make it function in the way it should, then you have bought the wrong rod! It is certainly the case that there are rods on the market that I believe are too stiff for their rated line number - many of them appear in the "Salt Water" market - but on the most part I believe it's because anglers (not Sexyloopers of course) are buying rods with the idea that fast and stiff is the hallmark of a good caster and because they can't cast the bloody thing end up requiring heavier lines to make them work. This incidentally is one reason why I believe that crappy fibreglass rods have made a resurgence, simply because many anglers have been buying stiff graphite rods when they would be better off purchasing softer rods or learning a better casting stroke.
The short answers – NOT MUCH, and MORE OFTEN THAN YOU THINK. But the long answers are much more interesting, and hopefully quite useful to you as an angler, so here goes nothing. It starts out with a history lesson, of course. Once upon a time, long, long ago, the physical weight of virtually all manufactured fly lines was done according to something called the AFTMA (American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association) Standard or the AFFTA (American Fly Fishing Trade Association) Standard. Those standards were developed around 1959, to ideally bring some standardization to an industry which had, according to accounts I’ve read, run rampant for a while, creating confusion among anglers and manufacturers alike. The idea was that the physical weight of the first 30 feet of a fly line (excluding level tip) would conform to an industry standard for the given line rating. For example, this would make all 6-weight fly lines, in theory, more or less the same weight for the first 30 feet. In a perfect world, this system would also serve to bring some standardization to the labeling of fly rods, making rod/line pairings (more on this later) easier. As far as fly line taper, head length, and overall head weight, though, all bets were off. But in the early days of synthetic fly lines, double taper lines were king, and our modern complex tapers were barely a dream, so it didn’t matter much.
It's called fly *tying* for a reason - we tie stuff to a hook. I learned fly tying by tying the old classics, feather winged wet flies and a lot of that still sits in me. They were never able to make me wrap thread clockwise, so I still tie "backwards", but so does Oliver Edwards, so I'm cool with that.
The 6th and last instalment of the Mikes salmon flies series. The Rogan’s Fancy.
Continuing from last week’s FP on tippet knot testing I have some more data to share. First up, some myth busting – we’ve all read BS about 100% knot strength from certain quarters, however based on last week’s numbers, where a simple overhand ‘wind knot’ loses 40% of the nylon’s strength, then 100% is surely an impossibility? The most widely talked about ‘perfect strength’ knot is the Bimini twist and it was suggested that I should test two of these loop-to-looped. I must admit to being more than a bit rusty when it came to tying these loops, in fact my first 4 or 5 efforts went straight in the bin as I didn’t think they were worthy of a test. Once I’d figured out to clamp the spool between my knees for tensioning, thus giving me two hands free to hold the loop, compress the twists and feed the tag end back in, then I started to produce some reasonably good looking knots. They did still have the odd stray twist in the loops but they were, in my mind, acceptable to test.
I'm uploading for Bernd today, not because he didn't have a Front Page ready but because the FP wasn't ready for him! Yesterday we moved Sexyloops from one server to another, and we hadn't finished the job in time, but there was time for Bernd to send me some photos. Apparently yesterday was brilliant (85 fish) and the day before was crap - obviously not zero because Bernd never gets zero, but it might have been one. "Fishing is like that" apparently, which is true of course.