Usually cold weather doesn't bother me much, but bitterly cold, easterly winds have kept me fra going fishing the last few days. It's been blowing unusally much from the east this Easter (hmm, east - easter - a connection?) and many of the spots enjoy fishing the most are no good in easterly winds.
Over the years I have developed the habit of tying all sort of flies with only hare as main material. It started with hare’s mask and was completed once I found out about the material found on the hare’s feet.
Li or Lierne is the home of the “Jurassic Hare”. The fibres of the feet are used for the tail and wing of this fly. It can imitate a small mayfly or a caddis emerger … or simply put, fish food. These things are beyond catchy — trout come from nowhere to attack these.
The Hare fly series consists of several patterns, of which we'll look closer at Mayfly Dun (which started it all) the Spinner and the Emerger. It is quite amazing what one can do with so little material.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Leonardo da Vinci
The curry has been won – by me (Tracy)! Not only that, I caught the first bonefish of our trip on the fly I tied and it was a fine specimen of around five pounds, which is the largest landed so far. I shall enjoy my lamb tikka jalfrezi on our return just as much as I’ll enjoy seeing James paying the delivery person.
I didn’t give James the chance to try any underhand tactics (such as fishing whilst I was unpacking) as I went straight out with him and caught it within 30 mins of starting – It could have been a mini disaster for us though...
Last week I heard that Lefty had passed on. Lefty was one of the greatest US fly fishing ikons. I was lucky to have met Lefty at the Denver Fly Tackle Dealers show quite a few years ago (2006, maybe) and we had an hour of casting together on the pond one morning prior to the show opening.
Readers of these “front page” posts have probably noticed that a couple writers are either currently on long-planned saltwater trips or are getting ready for one. I hope the trips exceed their wildest dreams. I cannot help but chuckle over the fact that I am also looking forward to an upcoming trip, but mine is in the opposite direction: away from the salt and up to the sweet water streams where trout are the prize.
I am not sure what that says about us fly anglers. Speaking for myself, I know it is not because I have everything so well figured out that I am bored with success. Far from it! If anything, the saltwater fishing that I do most often is getting more challenging every year.
We are extremely busy at the moment. Rod sales have been excellent for the past six months - thank you for that! I’m very happy; no sooner than we have blanks in we are reordering again. Today I will be putting Tonic Sunglasses into the shop. Originally I planned only to sell them here in Malaysia to guests coming to fish. However they are an excellent product and it makes sense to sell them via Sexyloops as well.
A race or species of fish evolves and adapts to its unique environment over time, isolated geologically from other populations, becoming ideally suited to its habitat through natural selection or learned behaviors.
Fly anglers, their tackle and techniques, also tend to evolve and become adapted to the unique environments in which they spend most of their time. Before the internet, anglers were far more geographically isolated than they are today. Techniques, tackle, flies, and ethics developed separately, over time, with minimal influence from outside sources. Geographic isolation allowed for the evolution of fantastically diverse fish species, as well as diverse angling methods, tackle, and traditions.
By now I suppose that most readers know that I love fishing for pike, and that I also love fishing from my pontoon boat. I also enjoy fishing from the float tube, but when I have the chance, I always choose the pontoon.
Ovipositing — Ovi what???
OK again … say in one word ovipositing - it from ova- ‘egg’ + Latin posit- ‘placed’ (from the verb ponere). That’s what insects do with an organ called Ovipositor. Google it, but it’s not for the faint hearted.
Mayflies and Caddis do this when dancing on the water. They often carry a rather obvious egg ball with them. Some fly fishers call this “trigger spot” when included in a fly design. However, using such terms like ovipositing, abundance, habitat etc. adds to your street credit around a fly-fishers campfire.
Besides the academic nomenclature, it is actually a trigger for the fish. Another positive side effect is that tying an egg ball with floss makes it much easier to set the tail fibres correctly and spread them as much as possible, so they can function as outriggers and give the fly more stability on the water.
The fly is tied parachute style. I find this type of fly superior to conventionally hackled flies. A parachute fly sits always correctly on the water. The body is slightly submerged in the water’s surface film, which is another important trigger.
Enjoy another hi-speed video.
At long last it’s time for Tracy and I to pack for our bonefishing trip to the Bahamas. Previously we wouldn’t even start planning our spring fishing until the New Year, however with the duration of our trips getting longer (6 weeks this time) it is necessary to book the accommodation early in order to stop someone spoiling our plans by reserving a week in the middle of when we want to stay. As such it’s been a considerable wait.
Now that the fly boxes are packed, my output of the last few months doesn’t look as impressive as when they’re spaced out on foam mats. Splitting them between mine and Tracy’s fly boxes makes me think I should have tied a whole load more. My tying was curtailed by a lack of hooks though, so I’ve made a mental note to bulk buy next time I see them in stock.
Tracy’s contribution has been one fly! She assures me this is a killer pattern and it’s all she’ll need for the holiday. My money is on it unravelling after her first fish though (maybe before), as I don’t believe it was tied with sufficient tension (that’s if a cuda doesn’t get it first). Talking about the first fish, this year I intend to secure a hat-trick of curry wins (the prize for our first bonefish of the year competition). I have a plan that involves me asking Tracy to park the car whilst I sprint off in the direction of the flats.
I'm covering for Bernd today who is fishing in a Mystery Location for imaginary tropical SW fish at the moment, together with Holger. It reminds me of a story of a Croatian friend who went fishing in the USA but didn't tell his wife that he was going (because she wouldn't have let him!). Perplexed at finding him missing she rang another friend of mine, Milan, to ask where Rudi aka "the Professor" was. "Erm, I think he's gone to Montana!"!!! Apparently that wasn't all, because after two weeks in Montana he disappeared again to go fishing in Canada. It's this sort of dedication to fly fishing that we all admire!
Last weekend I made another trip into the Everglades backcountry. This trip was much further from the shoreline and up near the northern end of Everglades National Park, which is a location far removed from the previous area I visited. Also different this time is that I requested the company of a fishing friend. Common sense dictated that the buddy system was necessary as I have little experience in the area, it is far off the beaten path, and a very complicated terrain. I was curious to see if the sad conditions I experienced on the previous trip were widespread. Luckily, they are not.
The weather leading up to our trip was actually rather seasonal. After the record setting heat of February, this month has returned to the more usual cool air and water temperatures, although many city folks thought was unusually cold. It is amazing how so many only remember their immediate past! I cannot help but wonder if this shortsightedness is not a crucial human flaw and one that is easily taken advantage of by the unscrupulous, like our current politicians.
I’ve just dropped Piffen off at the airport. It was a great two weeks of fishing and camping with the odd evening of bar pool thrown in. Piffen managed a Gourami which was great and was unfortunate not to have landed a Snakehead on the penultimate day. He had one follow and another eat (a free-riser no less!) but unfortunately it smashed the wire connection to the leader. So very close! However it is very hard as you will know by now but by the end of the trip Piffen lifted his casting shot game and started to look a little dangerous.
At the moment I'm still quite busy with getting my hunting license, but there are also good things about! We had a lot of work to do with the local wildlife police and so I finally got two beautiful birds that you normally don't get. Of course I had to fill out papers and it's all legal that I have this birds. The owl found not enough food and sadly died but the bird was in that good condition that I decided to let her preparation (not sure how you say that in English) but soon she will have a space in my flytying room and will sit next to me.
There are so many events that the flyfisher needs to be aware of. An important one for Scandinavians is the hatch of rag worms in the salt. They hatch over a lengthy period, but it peaks around (the first) full moon in March. Rag worms are big and slow and hence an important food source that even appears as many sea trout are still in a relatively poor post-spawn condition.
Fly tying, like in any other craftsmanship. can be understood as an assembly of modules. This basic concept makes it also “learnable”. Approach each module on it’s own until mastered, and then put these modules together.
The Klinkhamer is regarded by many as complicated. I tend to agree as this pattern consists of several modules and lots of steps. However, breaking it down in digestible steps helps to learn it.
Wing / wing-post: Antron yarn tied as underbody
Abdomen: Dubbed and ribbed over the antron underbody.
Thorax: Peacock herl wound around the thread and onto the hook-shank
Hackle: Parachute hackle whip finished under itself by the wing post.
The biggest hassle is to get the wing post stabilised. Nope, you do not need glue!!! That’s rather counterproductive in my eyes. The trick is to use the thread reinforced peacock herl “rope” as a base to pinch the wing-post with.
Another important factor is the amount of antron yarn for the wing-post. Many don't use enough and then struggle with the lack of stability cause by too little material.
Make note of that the thread is used to keep the fly under tension. Do not break the tension is my mantra to a good fly. Try to imagine the thread’s way on the fly in your mind.
Have a look at the video. I think the hi-speed video format helps to see the various modules coming together. However, practice all the modules separately before. Step 3 and 4 are the same modules as in the Red Tag and partly in the Griffith’s Gnat.
This week I finally got round to using the ticket for a free day’s fishing that I won at the competition that I entered in December (for catching a tagged fish). Having a day off from work whilst Tracy was required to go in gave me the perfect opportunity to fish my local trout lake, despite the forecast of a cold easterly wind and afternoon rain. The fishing was tough going until I found a very localised group of fish that were rising some distance out from the bank (30 yards plus). Assuming they were taking some early season buzzers (chironomid pupae), I tried a small Diawl Bach pattern with some success. With the continuing rise I then switched to a black Shipman’s buzzer (a very simple dry pattern for those who don’t know it) and took a number of fish off the top. I probably missed as many takes as I hit mind you, most likely due to a bit of ‘rustiness’ on my behalf. If there was any day that proved the usefulness of a distance cast then this was it, I’m not sure of the other catch returns for the day but I didn’t see many other fish caught than the ones I landed.
I have been fishing throughout the Everglades mangrove fringe seriously since the 1980s. Previous to that, there were many trips to Everglades National Park and the Keys during my childhood, and that was all fun and games, not a rigorous study. My father and I fished all over Florida. For a while, after graduating college I seriously fished the Florida Keys for a few years but the open waters lacked something, or maybe they reminded me too much of my part-time stints as an offshore commercial fisherman that helped with my education costs. It seemed every time I drove down to the Keys I could not help but feel the allure of the mysterious mangrove labyrinth that I was passing. Eventually, I gave in and turned right at the bottom of mainland Florida and headed into Everglades National Park, wondering if someday I might actually have a clue about the famous unknown waterways and backcountry.
Once I started I never stopped. I guess I am either a home-body or a simpleton, but I really have had little interest in fishing the famous places around the world. I like to defend my choice by saying I would rather have an in-depth knowledge of any one thing than a general overview of many other things. And while I do not believe that a single person, in a lifetime, could ever know and understand all the waters and secrets of the Everglades, I am pretty sure I have as good an understanding as anyone else alive today. I know I have covered (and fished) all of the major waterways, and I expect I have explored much more of the intimate areas than most.
Piffen is half way through his Malaysian Jungle trip and has caught one Gourami. It is our mission that next week he catches a Snakehead. We are getting shots at Snakehead but not the numbers I would expect at this time of year. There is one very exciting thing: the Cicadas are shagging! Which *may* mean they’ll starting dying soon and become trout food. Piffen and I have both tied up a dead cicada patterns although neither look like they had a natural death.
We here in MT just received the following press release from officials in Yellowstone National Park. This announcement affects anyone interested in Yellowstone Fly Fishing, and is a big shift in management policy for Western fisheries!
In a recent thread on the Board on small lake tactics, Paul mentioned a damsel imitation as a good searching pattern, and I agree, of course (who am I to argue against Paul's 20+ years in stillwater). Beiing a modest man, Paul of course refrained from mentioning that he's got one of best damsel-patterns I know, and I happen to have a pretty good one myself as well, so read on and learn about the two damsels.
Stockholm next ... I'm a bit in hurry packing for the Sports Fishing Fair 2018 at Stockholm Fair 16-18 March
Sportfiskemässan is the largest fair in Sweden in sports fishing. Here people meet with common interests to watch news, try out activities, compete, watch boats and book fishing trips. The fair has strong partners in companies, organizations and schools. In addition, the fair has ambitions to increase interest in sport fishing and promote fishing.
Welcome to this year's Sportfiskemässa, which will take place at Stockholm Stock Exchange on 16-18 March
Last year we hit a new record at Elmia and had 14 821 visitors! Over the years, the exhibition has grown both in terms of exhibitors and visitors and is now the sporting industry's big annual event / industry event where "everyone" is participating!
Tracy and I wimped out of fishing the river Dee when we were up in North Wales last time, the river level was perfect however the forecast was for freezing temperatures and once I lose the feeling in my hands things become less fun. As such we settled for a short casting practice session and a catch-up with our families.
Preparations for our saltwater trip are going well, although the fly tying has been temporarily halted due to a lack of hooks – unfortunately both shops I’ve been in lately have had no stock of size 4’s or 6’s, apart from Tiemco 811S which I promised myself I wouldn’t use again. So as things stand I have two hooks left, one for me to demonstrate a pattern to Tracy and one for her to tie a killer bonefish fly on. That said I must have added 150 flies to our collection by now, and topped up by a kind gift from Peter Vikanis, we should have enough to cope with the inevitable losses.
The addiction has got me pretty hard at the moment. I’m trying to find that groove where I can fish every day and yet still fit other things in. You know, Sexyloops, emails, casting sport and Triathlon training. Even finding time to watch a movie one night would be a miracle. But I’m way off that happy medium at the moment and just need to FISH. I know some of you will understand; there is this feeling that I share with others - you possibly - that life can go to hell, the world can turn upside down, but so long as I am fly fishing then everything is ok. After all, a fly fisher’s life is measured by how much time he spends fishing.
At the other end of the spectrum is the dreaded “slump” where you feel that you’ve fished too much, you’ve lost your killer edge and are simply treading water. I used to get this annually on Stillwaters about 2/3rds into the season. My solution was to disappear for a month of river trouting and come back refreshed. I honestly can’t remember my last slump. I’m so bloody far from being in a slump at the moment that I can’t even remember how one feels.
There is so much to be done. Gourami and Snakehead to be figured out better. New patterns and ideas to try. Moments to be experienced. Yet again I feel myself to be fully immersed in fly fishing.
I had some really busy weeks, the last 3 weekends we're filled out with flytying demos and between we've had a quite big problem: our pipes in the house we're frozen... so we had to go to the public swimming pool to take a shower. But it was awesome to see the small stream in our garden becoming a ice field...
For most of us, fly fishing is always moving forward - a hobby or way of life, where you can learn for ever. That is one of the asåects that make fly fishingso interesting - and giving. Perhaps through my profession as an archaeologist, fly fishing's long and rich history is another important aspect. A history which seamlessly unites with fly fishing anno 2018. For example, I love the long story, the beauty and the eccectiveness of the sparse North Country Spider - 200 year old creations that do as well now as they always have - even at the terminal end of my space-age fly tackle.
Don't you hate it when your fly sinks? I prefer dry fly fishing above other methods. Seeing the take - or the refusal is very exciting. (BTW - this is why "normal" people believe we're all nuts) Nymph fishing on the other hand is mostly "blind". I personally seem to lack the patience for blind fishing methods, so logically dry fly fishing is the easiest and most fun form of fishing closely followed by sight-fishing with a nymph.
However, often sight-fishing or dry fly is not applicable, which leaves two choices. Make coffee or fish something which sinks, a nymph for example.
There are two approaches to tying nymphs. Either neat, semi realistic things with legs, eyes and whatnot or very basic, scruffy flies. Both types catch pretty well. The one shown here is maybe the easiest of them all. However, it takes guts to have such in your fly box and show them to other fishermen. One comment I often hear is that this fly looks like being tied by a kid, which I actually take as compliment. Being in contact with my inner child is a higher aim very high on my list.
All you need for the fly is a standard dry fly or wet fly hook hook, a tungsten bead, thread, copper wire and hares mask. The hook used in the video is a standard down eye dry fly hook (Partridge of Redditch SLD2 - barbless). Feel free to use any other similar hook, I'd just urge you to use barbless hooks. Barbless hooks are much easier to "un-pierce" should they have pierced the wader, you ear, nose or worse. Realising fish is also much easier. I fish barbless since many years and yet have to loose a fish because of this. I even believe a barbless hook penetrates the fishes mouth much better as the barb is not in the way. But it's a belief, like the belief that this little barb keeps the fish on the hook. So switch your beliefs and fish barbless should you not already do it. Competition fishermen do, and they should know.
The bead is made of tungsten, which has very high specific weight, so the beads can be smaller than beads made of copper or other metal or glass. The one I used here is the hippest and latest way to fashion a nymph hook with. It's shaped like the real thing's head. Yeah, why not? It looks cool for the fisherman at least and takes off a litte from the "must hide this" pressure on the poor anglers shoulders.
I'm filling in for James and Tracy this week, having just returned from a trip down the lake. I managed one Snakehead (which will feature on Monday's FP!) and had a good look for Gourami. There are numerous Cicada around - a different species from the past two years I believe, since these are larger and darker in appearance. This will see Piffen and I tying flies around the evening campfire no doubt! However while I can hear them I've so far only seen one on the water surface. I think what is required is some very strong afternoon winds to tip them into the lake.