Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

Brad Bohen Tying up a Chunky Predator Fly   1 comment

Here’s my favorite Musky fisherman, Brad Bohen, tying his Hang Time Optical Minnow. His method of tying bucktail on backwards gives these flies that ability to pulse in the water like a squid upon retrieval.

Check it out!

Fly Tying with Brad Bohem (Hang Time Optical Minnow) from TheNewFlyFisher on Vimeo.

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Milwaukee Salmon (but not Steelhead)   5 comments

I fished in Milwaukee on Saturday with dozens of my closest friends. There are a lot of guys out there after salmon. I haven’t got the strategy figured out yet for catching migrating salmon legally. I’m suspicious that every salmon caught in the Milwaukee River is caught via a snag. I know this debate rages on forums like Lake-Link.com with some saying they are catching them in the mouth while others go on and on about witnessing fish harvested with treble hooks in the dorsal fin. It sure looked to me like the few hooks that found salmon were stuck in places well back from the mouth.

I’m hoping in the next several weeks the salmon have run their course, the weather gets nasty, and the Steelhead are all that’s left of the lake-run fish. I’ll be out there, with a lot fewer friends, swinging streamers for Steelhead.

Speaking of swinging, I got the hang of the Skagit cast to the degree that I made every fourth or fifth cast very adeptly. I have work to do to get power into my cast so I can get them to reach a little further. Right now I’m basically able to cast the shooting head and about ten feet of running line. I need to slow things down a bit on the forward cast I guess.

Cheers!

 

Salmon Fisherman on the Milwaukee River

Salmon Fisherman on the Milwaukee River

 

 

To Bobber, or not?   15 comments

I’ve been contemplating my use of a float while nymphing. For those of you who don’t like the cute, snobby vocabulary of fly fishing, a float (or indicator) is nothing more than a friggin’ bobber. When it goes down, you should tug on the line and if you’re lucky, you’ll hook a fish.

 

1/4" fly fishing float

1/4" fly fishing float

 

So, I’ve been using a float for a good long while, and while fishing the Brule last November, I watched a large float drift over Steelhead runs many, many times over the course of three days. Steelhead are not spooky, not like spring creek trout. Steelhead come from a big lake (or ocean) and have not learned to be particularly wary of snapping twigs, footsteps, or bobbers. At least that’s what I was told.

On the other hand, spring creek trout (trout that live in the spring-fed creeks of the Driftless Region), are very spooky. An angler needs to use extreme stealth to avoid scaring these fish. A float could be, arguably, enough to spook a Driftless trout. I’ve even heard experienced anglers say fly line landing on the surface of the water could scare away a trout.

 

Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

 

But without a float you are left to guess whether or not a fish has taken an interest in your nymph, ticking along the rocks on the streambed. Sometimes conditions are such that you can use your floating fly line as an indicator of a bite. Some say the float makes casting more difficult, acting as a hinge on the line. I’ll agree that a float does make tucking that fly right up against the cut bank a bit more difficult. And it sometimes makes a splash. But, it also gives my eye something to concentrate on as I strip line in, watching that pink ball drift back toward me.

Today my little pink float helped me land this nice male Brown trout…

 

A 17" Male Brown trout, Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

A 17" Male Brown trout, Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

 

I was on the tailout of a nice bend in the river, where the water was slightly riffled and about three feet deep. I had cast my bead-headed “Night Light Fly” up into this run about a dozen times, then saw the float dip just slightly. Hook set, fish on! He and I danced for probably five minutes, and he even leapt out of the water a few times. My 6X tippet required finesse, and my first attempt to scoop him into my hand ended with him charging back upstream to the hole he came out of. After a bit more coercing I cradled him and admired the nicest Brown I’ve ever caught.

 

A 17" Brown Trout, Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

A 17" Brown Trout, Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

 

I guess for now, I’m going to continue using a float. There are likely situations where the water is too glassy, the target too small, the fly line visibility adequate, where a float is unneccesary, but the advantage a float gives me in detecting a fish sure is appealing.

 

My 4-wt in Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

My 4-wt in Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

 

 

New Waders Soon   2 comments

I’m looking to get some new waders. Here’s my wader story.

My first year of trout fishing I bought a pair of waders from Farm and Fleet. These hip waders were made of rubber and had big floppy boots. They worked OK and kept the water out, and they were tough as nails, and affordable. The downside was that they were hip waders, so water sometimes came in over the top.

 

Winchester stream rubber hip waders

Winchester stream rubber hip waders

 

Late that season I bought a pair of neoprene waders from Farm and Fleet. These were great for keeping water out, but they were hot, smelly, and sprung some leaks. The boots were also floppy and the soles were thin, so walking over streambed stones was not real comfortable, and by the end of the day I had a blister or two from my feet sliding around inside the boots.

 

Winchester neoprene bib waders

Winchester neoprene bib waders

 

After using the neoprenes for a full year I decided to spend some hard-earned money on expensive waders and wading boots. I bought some Simms Headwater waders. These babies, along with wading boots, were a world apart from the hot, smelly, sweaty, moist, floppy waders I’d been using. Boy was I happy! The downside, the waders cost me $300. But I figured they’d get used hard for 3 or 4 years, maybe even 5, before I needed to shell out more dough.

 

Simms Headwaters Wader

Simms Headwaters Wader

 

Well, they lasted exactly two years. Seam failures in the crotch and inner knees after the first year killed my initial feelings of love for these handsome waders. Patch job after patch job was followed by leak after leak. Each leg has a seam running vertically along the inseam that intersects like a “T” with a seam running laterally around the “Knee-pit”, and it is at this juncture that holes were worn through the material due to abrasion from walking. On top of that, the material was so breathable it started to allow water to wick in.

I’m not sure how any serious fisherman could justify spending the money on these waders. They were a big disappointment.

So now what?

As you may know, a trip was had to the Brule River. Fly By Night Guide Tim showed me and Stephen how to catch steelhead. He also sported a pair of Redington waders that he’d used as a guide in Alaska for a few years. They looked used, but definitely not broken. Guides in Alaska live in their waders for months straight. These waders also had a nice pocket system built into them that allowed Tim to go without a vest or backpack. Bonus!

So, late this winter I’ll be shelling out $350 to get what some are calling the best waders around. Let’s hope this time I’m happy with my purchase.

 

Redington Sonic Pro Zip Waders

Redington Sonic Pro Zip Waders

Fly Tying Night at “On The Creek” fly shop   Leave a comment

Stephen Rose and I headed over to Cross Plains last Thursday afternoon to visit Nick Volk at the On The Creek fly shop. Black Earth Creek is just outside, and rumor has it there are some nice-sized fish lurking beneath the footbridge.

Every Thursday, starting mid-afternoon and going until later at night, a group of six to a dozen fishermen get together to tie, swap stories reveal the secret locations of their favorite honey holes, and partake in the pleasures of food and drink.

On The Creek fly shop, Cross Plains, WI

On The Creek fly shop, Cross Plains, WI

I was fortunate to meet six men (regulars, you might say) who’ve spent a considerable amount of time seeking trout, including Paul Julius, the head honcho of the P.J. Julius Rod Company. My knowledge of trout fishing is like a strand of dubbing in their collective box of flies.

P.J. Julius Bamboo Fly Rods

P.J. Julius Bamboo Fly Rods

In addition I got to meet Mike Johnson, a Cross Plains fisherman who resides online at the blog Montana of the Midwest . One thing I’ve enjoyed about the offseason is getting to meet other trout fishermen. I look forward to meeting many more in the coming season.

I honed my tying skills as well, working on Grizzly Wulff flies. The first one I tied on Thursday night was given a positive but tepid review by the men in attendance, but after looking at a Grizzly Wulff stocked by the shop, and getting some pointers on the scale of the hackles, I tied a second that was much nicer and met the approval of everyone who saw it. “That’ll catch a fish” was the line I remember.

Real Good Beer
Real Good Beer

 

And to top it all off, I got a piece of homemade chocolate poundcake to go with my Furthermore Beer. Thanks a lot to Nick and everyone there for a great time. I’ll be back!

Tying Scuds   2 comments

Finding lots of scuds in our kick nets from Story Creek, Stephen and I deduced that it might be a good idea to tackle the tying of scuds. Referring to the excellent book, the American Fly Tying Manual, a scud pattern was found, adjusted to look more like what we saw in Story Creek, and the bobbin started whirring.
Stephen Rose Tying a Scud Patter

Stephen Rose Tying a Scud Patter

 

American Fly Tying Manual

American Fly Tying Manual

 

A fly tyer's tools

A fly tyer's tools

 

A completed size 12 Scud

A completed size 12 Scud

 That ought to work, don’t you think? The best part about tying this pattern is that a strip of sandwich baggie is used to create the smooth back of the fly, and push the “Legs” (hackles) down toward the point of the hook.

Can’t wait to catch a beauty on it!

Camping in the Trees and Kittleson Creek   5 comments

What a campsite this would make.

Getting out to our coldwater streams is a really big deal. But how to not ‘break the bank’ on our visits can often feel like a huge compromise. When you’ve waded enough of these streams you realize just what you don’t see when you stay in a readymade campground.

Someone bought me a cheap nylon camping hammock as a gift for my wedding.  I had planned a bachelor’s river trip down the Flambeau River flowage with a dozen or so of my good friends. That was sixteen years ago and the hammock turned out to be the most revelatory part of the whole excursion. The first night we set up camp, I saw that the moon was bright in the sky and we had little worry about weather. So I strung up the hammock for fun.

But I felt so good in it I didn’t bother to set up my crummy tent and I slept better than I ever had before. I think I was the only one who felt great in the morning. (the beer may have played a role) From that moment on I’ve looked for ways to use the hammock as my primary way to get through the night outdoors.

Recently, Tom and I came across an article in the Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/nyregion/13trees.html

Cory and Dana Foht

These guys were doing exactly what I always hoped to do. Why do we sit on our hands?

Anyway, Tom and I have invested in some pretty sweet hammock gear and we can’t wait to find an ideal tree to spend an evening this way. Up in the canopy with the stars.

Wouldn't this be cool.

I’m envious of this dude.

This kind of camping would allow you to get right down to the streams edge without disturbing so much as a leaf. You can string one of these arrangements in two minutes if your not expecting weather and fifteen if you do. And there’s a minimum of wet stuff to contend with in the morning. I’ve been through quite a few serious weather evenings in my hammocks and getting wet has never been as issue. Mostly, I’ve worried about everybody else who wasn’t in one.

This whole idea can be taken to some pretty cool extremes.

This is New Zealand but there is no reason we couldn't figure this out at some point.

Enough of that. You get the idea. Tom and I hope to locate idealized trees for this activity all season long. There won’t be any campfires but who cares? We came to fish.

On the last day of the season last year, I elected to give the newly restored section of Kittleson Valley Creek in SW Dane county a try. The banks have been nicely cut back and lunker structures added with some really nice riffle runs and on either side of the restoration I’ve seen some pretty big browns. It’s not a big stretch but it has some premium spots for fly casters.

Kittleson Creek is a nice little tributary of Gordon Creek.

This spot may not be a good choice for the early season as I can imagine it getting some significant traffic right out of the gate. But if you can manage to escape work one day you might have a really sweet couple of hours working this water. You might not even need to get wet.

If anybody’s interested, Tom and I will be down at the On The Creek fly shop in Cross Plains tomorrow night tying some flies.

http://www.onthecreekflyshop.com/

If your local, maybe we’ll see you out there?

 

An idea taken to a nifty extreme. Just how the heck do they get out of there?