Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Somehow, probably due to some sort of advertising, a short while ago I came across a new-to-me flyfishing tactic called “micro-Skagit”. I think the name is somewhat misleading as many of the rods used are not all that small, at least lengthwise. It seems most rods are two-handed, or at least switch style, and usually longer than the standard 9’ single hander. I guess what makes them “micro” is that they are lighter weight for Spey rods… 3 weights seem to be popular.
The idea is to use Skagit style heads and casting for smaller streams or smaller fish, mostly trout instead of the usual Skagit target - salmon. From my limited understanding of anything about trout fishing I guess it would make sense to swing streamers or wets this way. And, I guess, these longer rods would be useful for fishing nymphs? I’m puzzled on how they would work for dry flies, but again, I understand very little about trout fishing, especially advanced techniques.
The thing that struck a chord with me was the idea of using Skagit style casting in small creeks where backcast room is oftentimes limited. (This is where I need an emoji of someone slapping their forehead!)
You see… I was halfway there many years ago. I tried something quite similar with a 7’ glass rod and a homemade shooting head. I put the combo together from odds and ends of old equipment and lines. This was an attempt to fish the cavern-like mangrove creeks in the estuarian Everglades where I like to canoe. Standard overhead single-hand casting in there is impossible. Bow and arrow casts work, of course, but distance is limited. Unfortunately for me, at that time, I had not yet been introduced to Spey casting and all the assorted offshoot styles. I am pretty sure I had never even heard of Skagit at that time. And, to be honest, my roll casting was not very advanced yet either. I did manage to catch a few fish on that then-Frankensteinish combination, but eventually, it was relegated to dust collecting at the back of the closet with all the other experiments that didn’t quite pay their rent.
Then, recently, I see these thinly disguised Utube advertisement videos for micro-Skagit heads and rods. Gee… those creek dimensions look familiar… except look at the casting distance they are getting! A C pickup, set the water anchor, swing around into a D… and zing! Man do I know places where that would be “the answer”.
So I dug deep in the elephant graveyard closet where stupid ideas go to rust. And there it was: the last glass rod I ever built with a forgotten old cheap real with that homemade shooting head still attached. Mind you, this was not a rod built out of nostalgia, it was built from glass because, at that time, graphite was a novel idea – and way above my income range, even for blanks.
I remember when the epoxy had finally dried and I cast that glass rod the first time I was actually rather proud of myself. Truthfully, I was more impressed with the blank, because to be quite honest, my rod making has never been what one would call artistic. I made rods to be functional, not works of art, and I was usually too impatient to bother with anything fancy. The rod, then and now, casts quite beautifully. I remember the blank was a newer, better glass: E glass or S glass? I don’t remember which, but one was old fashion, the other new, and this blank was the new stuff. I think it was an attempt to stay competitive with the new kids on the block: boron and graphite. We all know how that turned out.
So, out to the casting field we went. The rod still casts sweet. The cut-off head of whatever line I butchered almost overloads it and the running line is fine. The blank was designated as a 6 weight. The head has to have been from at least an 8, likely heavier. Whatever it is, it will likely carry my usual baby tarpon/snook flies with ease. It casts lovely off grass. Thirty to 40’ casts are effortless, and that is all I need. How it rips off the water will have to be seen.
In any case, I know an area populated with a whole bunch of small islands that usually holds fun fish, but has always been a casting challenge due to insufficient backcast space. That almost-ancient rod that might now be “cutting-edge” again is going to be in my canoe the next time I go there. And next time will hopefully be soon.
Don’t ya just love fly fishing?