|Column nr.4 1999|
This months update will begin with an imaginary first fly fishing trip for those who read the last update. Which can be accessed in the content section of this fine webzine. Ms. Karen Martin an accomplished fly fisher with a history of international adventure and eye for the sports poetic side is the featured sportsperson this month. I will review an outstanding Bamboo rod made by the well known Orvis Outfitters. Its mid summer here in Northern California, I have spent much time throwing flies at local trout living in nearby waters. The call of seasonal Striped Bass has been hard to resist. Lets get started, grab your favorite chair and let that dog curl up at your feet.
Last month I began this short series of instructional hints for those about to begin down the cluttered trail of novice fly fishers. Seasoned vets can ride along and see if any of this rings a bell. I assume by now those who read last months column have bought the right equipment and taken a few lessons?
Its an hour before sunrise we arrive at a fine medium speed stream in the foothills near where you live. The stream is running at moderate speed, its about ten to fifteen feet deep in different spots. This stream has various boulders spaced along its path, and its sides are resplendent in deep cut overhangs with assorted trees and shallow areas. We have not been on this water before, so we will approach very slowly and take our sweet time watching for rising rings (trout hitting the surface for bugs).
We were smart enough to do a bit of prefishing scouting, spoke with a kindly gent who after accepting a bottle of single malt scotch gladly gave us the lay of the land: what kind and size of trout live here, what kind and usual times the local bugs hatch, what weight and length fly rod most people seem to use here. Now that we have all this first hand info, and a new friend, who will gladly help us with any other queries like what is the real meaning of life or is it true most woman cant resist a man in neoprene waders. A review of standard stream etiquette can save a lot of time and make the adventure more meaningful. If we were to come upon another angler already positioned on a stretch of water. We would without question turn around and find our own area to fish in. We would not call out to him or her or in any way disturb their space. After spending as much time as necessary studying the currents and pools, before moving up to the water. We would NEVER begin stumping around the shallows or rushing into the deep sections just to feel cold water slapping our shiny new waders.
Under no conditions would we shout at each other or cast any unwanted shadows on the stream which would scare all likely fish back to their lairs. Remember the stream bed is as fragile as your understanding of this new sport. If you splash around looking for a place to throw flies without regard for the peaceful order under your uneducated feet. The results will be predictable every time, all the fat trout you might have caught will be lunching in the next county!
Perhaps we could not find a likely suspect with a fly rod, who might give us the stream holy grail? What do we do now, throw a couple of sticks of explosives into the stream and wait and see what pops up? We use our eyes much more then the half ton of shiny clanky gadgets hanging from that new tidy vest. What color and size flies are hovering near the stream. If you cant tell for sure what flies are about, then begin gently rolling over rocks in or near the stream and letting the material sift through your hands. Ah, yes there it is an ugly black furry looking thing that looks like hell and no self-respecting trout could possibly eat this thing? My friend you have hit pay dirt!
In your new fly box you have a little sweety called a black Wolly Bugger or whatever locals call this time tested fly. Now lets make sure we have at least six to nine feet of leader and four to six feet of two to three pound tippet tied and knot tested for strength. Tie on the black Wolly and gently toss it in front of that big boulder in the middle of the stream. If you let the current easily carry the fly while you quickly take up the extra slack. So you can feel the three-pound Rainbow Trout slam that baby, you are now in fly fishing nirvana. If we had no luck with the area near the big boulder. We would look for the slack pockets near the fast currents or we might let the fly ride the current from way up stream down to where we are casting. In many instances we would cast across the stream when possible and gently pull in line in handfuls at a time while jerking the line a bit to stimulate bored trout into taking a chance on this fly being perhaps a real meal. We want the fly to both drift on top and slowly sink each time we throw it.
If the Wolly Bugger is now getting no hits and after moving around and casting in all directions nothing is happening. Take a look at your itchy swollen forearm all those bites are from mosquitoes. Why not tie one on and see if the sight of this old favorite gets some action. I have caught more wild trout on this fly then any other period. Its time to wax philosophic lads and lassies about catching trout or any other fish on these expeditions. It is never a waste of time to stand in ice cold water watching mother nature unfold one of her wonderful natural symphonies of light, bird songs and smells. If you never catch a trout and throw your new gear in the trash, you will be much better off as a person who has tasted these delights, rather then simply reading another book. If you do get lucky and you will, and catch a pretty trout on a fly you presented just right. Let the fish take his time getting tired before yanking him in. More people fail to understand this aspect then any other. The real thrill is feeling the fish and its power, learning how to feel the first hit and setting the hook takes a lot of practice. After you have brought your first fish to you, never grab it and pull it out of the water to spend ten minutes groping it and squeezing it. Gently remove your barbless hook, leaving the fish in the water facing the moving current, while moving him back and forth until he is revived, then let him go. This whole process takes about a minute and will save a lot of fish lives. If you want to eat trout, buy them and take them home, leave the fish you catch in their homes for all of us to enjoy.
Before I begin this months Fly Rod field test/review, it gives me great pleasure to hail the arrival of new high quality professionally staffed Fly & tackle shop to the San Francisco area. Why it is few of these places exist is easy to understand, this sport is still rather exclusive (thank god). In Sausalito just across the fabled Golden Gate Bridge a new kid is now on the block "World Waters Outfitters" run by Dave Hamasaki and his staff of "Real Fly Fishers", has made life much easier for all of us over the top types who constantly need more tippets and whatever we loose almost daily. These guys know the game and walk the walk. Contact them at 415-331-4034 or on the web at firstname.lastname@example.org
This months featured field tested fly rod is an Orvis Spruce Creek Full Flex 3 weight Bamboo which comes equipped with a well constructed CFO Reel in the Battenkill version. This handsome little six & a half footer came in to my hands via Hollywood and a pal actor who keeps all his rods in a special room with a handmade wall rack next to his pool table. I spent two days on the waters near South Lake Tahoe California throwing tiny midges and size 16 black stone emerger's and assorted nymphs in moderate to fast water. This rod retails for around $1,800, and it comes with two tips and the CFO reel.
I was in heaven from the start, I always move slowly with bamboo at first. These fine rods never need more then a gentle throw to get the maximum leverage. This rod easily tossed the tiny flies and 3-weight line even in a fairly stiff breeze. After an hour or so, I hooked into a two pound planted Rainbow that gave me a nice thrill. The rod was very whippy and made me hunger for a little more fight from a bigger fish. I quickly found the groove for 40 to 50 foot casts in light wind. The little bamboo was almost weightless to the feel, funny how I could not take my eyes off of the quality finish and maple wood with nicely sculpted cork swell. I looked carefully for any defects in varnish or eye raps, found none! The up-locking nickel reel seat is not only well put together, but easy on the eyes. If your the kind of fly fisher who gets serious about light bamboo and the magic of playing fish on a system you can hardly feel in your hands, this it. I have a soft spot for well made bamboo usually hand made by people who have the time, and know how to do it right. Orvis has been at it for many years. The cane used and the assembly is top notch, eye wraps are even and solid. I would buy this rod or recommend it as a good investment to be fished not hung on the wall. Contact Orvis at 1800-548-9548 or at their web sight at www.orvis.com
One of the smartest
ways to find and book an adventure fly fishing in America or anywhere else for that matter
is simple. Contact a seasoned outfitter or a broker like Orvis or Cabelas by way of their
outstanding catalogs. Orvis can be reached at 1-800-548-9548, Web sight is www.orvis.com. Cabelas phone number is 1-800-237-4444,
Web sight is, www.cabelas.com. I have used these services many times over the course of my
outdoor life. I have never been steered in the wrong direction. Both companies respond
with accurate help no matter when you contact them. This months exotic fly fishing
destination is the fabled American Western State of Montana.
One of my most favorite fly fishing backpacking expeditions happened in the California wilderness area known as the Immigrant Forest. This area located in still relatively untouched land is an almost perfect place to hike in and throw flies at shallow little waters and crystal clear lakes. I took a 4 piece Bamboo three weight and an assortment of dry flies and nymphs. When one begins the descent into the area where pitching tents and fishable water exists. It is exciting to slowly approach the often tiny water holding spots with many little brookies and rainbows everywhere. As is often the case early morning or late afternoon finds these waters coming alive with bugs, usually Mosquitos screaming all over searching and darting. I have seen youngsters using the old plastic bubble and nine feet of leader attached to flies catching fish after fish. I like finding areas where waterfalls flow and throw flies up and watch them descend into holding areas where hungry trout wait for a meal. Ah, the good life!
Written by Dan Fallon, August 1999 ©
For Dan Fallon's earlier and later colums; visit the table of contents