We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, April 22. 2012
Salt Water Phly Phishing plus My Phishing Philosophy, re-posted: "I'll be glad to help out with advice, encouragement or commiseration if necessary."
My post about Mahi and Captain Beardsley's catch the other day brings me around to fishing the fly. This time, we'll concentrate on salt water although some of the techniques and gear I'll mention can also be used for big fresh water game fish.
However, before I launch into a short treatise, I'd like to spend a paragraph or two on my personal fishing philosophy.
Izzak Walton said Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learned. He also said God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling. While certainly true in some ways, neither statement quite explains the whole attraction to the sport.
Fishing, both bait/reel and on the fly can be as complex or as simple as you wish. Basic arithmetic is simple, quantum physics is complex - both are mathematics. A bobber, cane pole with hook and worm are simple - big game reels with three stage gearing, auto-clutch drags and tension monitors on custom carbon fiber rods, ceramic roller guides and high strength butts are complex.
Still fishing for pan fish is calm, quiet and relatively innocent - big game fishing contains the excitement of the chase, the cast, the hook up and the catch. While Izzak had the right idea, he didn't quite carry it far enough. Then again, he lived in a relatively simpler time.
My personal philosophy when it comes to fishing is simple is better. I learned this when I was First Mate to Captain Jim Hendricks during high school summers crewing the 47 Post sportfisher Blue Horizon out of Marblehead, MA. Captain Hendrick's approach to fishing involved solid gear, easily repairable/easy to use, simple rigging techniques and a small variety of artificial/frozen bait. He told me time and again it was our job to know where the fish were, remembering the time of day, the weather, the state of the tide and what worked. And as fish are basically stupid, the rest is easy. This philosophy has served me well over the years.
My selection of salt water fly rods are all custom made (by me) using Shakespeare Ugly Stick blanks in different lengths. Most of the time, I use the 8' length in medium with a very fast action the guides set along the spine rather than opposite the spine of the rod. Believe it or not, there can be a difference both in casting and in striking power in how the guides are placed. Aligning the guides along the spine gives a much stiffer response while maintaining the proper casting and striking action. If you aren't into rolling your own, a good rod shop can strip off the guides from a production rod, then reverse the guide placement fairly inexpensively. That is my preference though, if you find that a standard production rod gives you performance you need at the price you can afford then that is the way to go.
With respect to reels, this is the second most important component of the fly system. My preference here is Van Staal, but they are pricey - ok, very expensive. I only own two (I won one as a prize in a tournament), but I switch them from rod to rod as necessary. Other than that, Penn is always the best choice for standard large capacity fly reels - they make a quality product for a reasonable price. Purchasing extra spools is a good idea as you can rapidly switch lines when conditions change. My choice for backing is to use a good Dacron loose wind in sufficient capacity that the actual fly line just comes up to the lip of the spool.
Salt water fishing is not a finesse sport like fresh water trout fishing. Heavier #8/9 lines in forty foot length weight forward SINKING line (90% of the weight is forward of the running line) is a good weight if you are fishing in open water or in-shore around structure. You want to be able to get under floating structure (for mahi) and in/around sub-surface structure (for stripers) - that requires heavy sinking lines. While this may seem like heresy to the fresh water trout fly throwers, adding lead core leader to the tip of the line gives a necessary assist in getting the line down - a ten/fifteen foot length of 3/4 lb is sufficient. And as always, a short length (3/5 feet) of 12 lb florocarbon tippet.
Don't get caught up in the while rod/line design thing. Most rods are designed for a particular weight line (and this is true for bait casting also), but moving up or down a couple of sizes is perfectly ok. For example, if your rod is speced for #6 line, there isn't reason why you can't use a #4/5 or a #7/8 line.
The most critical component in the system is the fly/lure. This is another area where I keep it simple and easy. Most fly types, in my opinion, are over kill and actually designed to catch more fishermen/women than fish. My choice is always a large Clouser imitation in chartreuse or pink:
or a streamer tied to imitate whatever bait fish is normal for where I'm fishing:
As you can see, my preference is towards greens and pinks. This is directly the result of my personal trust in these colors. If you examine my fresh water lure selection, you won't see very many different types of lures nor will you see a lot of color other than what you see here. A large part of fishing is having faith that what you are using will work under most conditions. The guys I normally fish with all have differing opinions on what works well when, but if you examine their boxes, they are similar to mine in that they have limited their choice to type and color.
As promised, I am working on a terminal tackle post, but BD asked for a fly fishing post so I thought, as he is Maggie's ram rod, I'd comply. If anybody has any questions, I'd be glad to answer them. I do tie my own flies and I build my own specialty rods so any questions are welcome.
I'll be glad to help out with advice, encouragement or commiseration if necessary.
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Eagerly awaiting Dr. Merc's comments on Capt. Tom's post.
How many eclectic websites have two pro sport fishermen writing?
Heh - I came to this in a interesting fashion. Back when I was at the end of my Freshman high school year, the local Sea Scout Master recommended me to Capt. Hendricks because I had completed the navigation badge and I also had a Red Cross Life Guard certification. Capt. Hendricks was looking for somebody to keep an eye on a certain client of his who had a propensity toward strong drink. Jim also knew my Dad well because they were in the local USCGA together.
Anyway, came my first day and I was dispatched to pick up the client at the State Street Dock in the tender and bring him out to the boat. Found the guy sitting right where I was told me would be wearing exactly what I was told he would be wearing - he didn't look drunk or in his cups, but he did list a little and his breath could have taken out a Great White.
So I got him into the tender and out to the boat. As we were moving along to the mooring, out comes a quart of premium vodka and about a half of a half gallon of orange juice from the bag he was carrying. He filled up the rest of the orange juice container with vodka and started in. Needless to say, by the time we got to the boat, it was getting lively and I was getting a little nervous as we approached. However, Captain Hendricks was on the stern with the tuna door open as I pulled up and we got him into the boat with no problem.
The guy's list is getting a little more dramatic, but he wanders over to the fighting chair, plops himself down, feet up on the foot rest, takes a huge slug of his drink and promptly falls asleep. I was then given instructions to help the client as needed - give him what he wants, but to keep him away from anything dangerous, the stern, the side - just keep him comfortable.
We cast off and out of the harbor we go out towards Eagle Rock and beyond. We arrived out at the general area where there is a lot of bottom structure, Capt. Hendricks started fishing - the client has been up once to hit the head and demand ice for his drink, but other than that, he's passed out in the fighting chair. We caught a couple stripers, then hit just by chance hit a decent size bluefin. Wake the client up, he stands up, but I'm supporting him, Capt. Hendricks takes a picture of the fish, the client hits the head again, plops into the chair, huge slug of his drink - which is now more vodka than orange juice and we head back - slowly. As we headed back, Capt. Hendricks came down and explained that this was a regular client and this was the regular routine. Catch a fish, take the picture and return. I wasn't to tell anybody, keep my mouth shut and just make sure he didn't fall over board.
I never did find out who the client was and Captain Hendricks never told me, but it was a big name early Hollywood actor. I have my suspicions who it was and my Dad knew and gave out some hints occasionally but I don't know to this day. :>)
The good part was I had a permanent summer job leading eventually to my Master's license and my own operation for quite a few years.
First off, by way of explanation of BD's comment, I run a charter boat here in the Keys. I've seen some pretty nice fish yanked out of the briny, but to be one hundred thousand percent honest, I'm a dry fly stream fisherman, myself. The big sea catch is thrilling, but most of it's brawn. I like playing chess with some old codger who's been hanging out under the same old crooked tree branch for 10 years and thinks he's seen it all.
Back to the cap'n:
"A large part of fishing is having faith that what you are using will work under most conditions."
My grandpappy would argue that point. He was big on 'the natural approach' and his creel barely had the basics. When we went fishing (Kansas and Oklahoma, mostly), we hooked up to whatever the local fish were chompin' on. Basket nets actually work quite well when it comes to snagging flying critters out of the air, always a favorite. I remember dragon flies in OK and moths in KS. The way they flutter on top of the water of a still mountain pond at sunset drives those old boys crazy.
Tom, while tying your own flies isn't any big deal, I'm intrigued by you crafting your own rods. What are you imparting that you can't find in the store?
I like your approach: simplicity...however, I am stuck in the middle of the continent (Denver, CO) and have never been saltwater fishing. I do love to get up to the mountains and fish, if only as an excuse to get out of the city for awhile. My favorite rivers tend to be the ones with the fewest people...one stretch of the St. Vrain we call the 'secret spot'. It's not a secret; just that it is such a pain in the ass to get into and out of that it weeds out the phonies. And I always knock em' dead with a size 12 royal wulff. This time of year, the canyon is carpeted with wildflowers, making it one of the best fishing experiences a guy can have in the rockies.
He was big on 'the natural approach' and his creel barely had the basics.
We would have gotten along. My point is that what ever works for you, works. I don't get along with spinner baits for example when bass fishing. Other guys I know tend to use plugs - some jigs- it's what ever works for you and what ever technique you have faith in.
crafting your own rods. What are you imparting that you can't find in the store?
I roll my own most of my own rods for a variety of reasons. First, I can control the rod's action by changing the length - adding or substracting and I can affect the overall response to suit my taste - meaning that I can control the action of the rod the way I want using my super secret technique, which, just between you and me you understand, involves...we are just talking between ourselves here right?...adding small tapered graphite rods inside the blank. I can say that because it's the way I do it that is unigue.
Second, rod blanks that extend completely through the butt and handle. Not all production rods do this.
Third - I add additional guides along the length to keep the line slap down - in particular for fly lines. It also works for bait rods as I tend to use heavier line than most and a variety of lines from Dacron to floro.
Last - I like using different wraps, decorating them in different ways - some of the weaves can get really complex.
You all need to come and fish with me in Montana.
If you want to hunt for Big Browns check out flyfishmissoula add the dot com and check out the pics from my buddy's service.
Sorry if that is considered spam, please pull it.
I no longer guide or fish as a pro.
So that was an invitation.
I spent a summer out in your area fishing anywhere I could. That's some great fishing terrority. Probably the best fishing I had that summer.
I envy you - that's beautiful country.
Garrett - Wow, great pic on the Montana page! And, FYI, that's known as "adding to the narrative", the very opposite of "spam".
Cap'n - Well, I'd still argue the point:
"it's what ever works for you and what ever technique you have faith in."
Grandpappy would look at that and say, "No, you use whatever techniques the fish have faith in." Then he'd hunt around for a wriggling grub or worm or cricket or moth, hook it 'just so' so it'd still flop enticingly around, and that'd be it for mister large-mouth bass.
That's quite interesting what you said (and didn't say) about your pole crafting techniques. My neighbor, who's got about twenty poles, is always complaining that the action isn't quite right with his latest fave -- which is probably why he has twenty poles. I also like your adding additional line guides. The wide spacing on some rods is actually kind of weird. Saving money, are we?
Looking forward to your tackle post, cap'n.
Well, Granddad and I will respectfully agree to disagree.
You know what we should do? Author a dual post on terminal tackle and such like that. That would be different.
Best quote ever heard re: flyfishing.
I was hitchhiking between holes on the Bitterroot one year, doing shuttles and fishing when the fishing was good. At the end of the run, I hitched a ride with a an old codger in a Subaru Brat. When we started talking flyfishing I asked him what his favorite flies were.
"There's only one fly, son. A Royal Wulff, size 12, with a Grasshoper on it. It was my dad's favorite!"
LOL!! I know - when I was out your way, I fished the Yellowstone with a full blood Apache guide. Others on the stream weren't catching much, but we were knocking 'em dead.
The guide brought along a little piece of worm to put on the streamers I brought with me. :>)
Now hold on a sec. Are you saying you agree to disagree with Grandpappy, or are you disagreeing with his assessment that you're disagreeable?
Oh, never mind!
It'd be fun to do a dual post, but I wouldn't have much to contribute outside of:
1. Don't believe anything Tom says about bait. He's one of them fancy "technology boys" who believes a shiny spoon has more appeal to a widemouth bass than a fresh, juicy worm.
2. On the other hand, I once caught a 42" northern pike with the gaudiest, most unnatural-looking spoon you ever saw in your life, so maybe he's right.
But you're welcome to use what I have so far. :)
Ugh - I really need to get to work on those posts I keep promising. I'm just having too much fun in the sun. :>)
Reminds me of a local story, deep south. Bubba asks an old black man what he color jig he caught all those crappie on. Willy says aw Mista Bubba, they'll hit any of 'em iffin you put on a piece of govermt cheese.
Bird Dog -
Our friend Gordon Wickstrom of the Boulder Creek Angler blog has authored another good piece - not wholly unrelated to this. Please take a look and contact me...