Friday, December 24, 2010

General Fishing Report for the Mountain Region of NC, TN, VA

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings from Casters Fly Shop. River levels are up a smidgen so winter is getting off to a great start. 

The 10 day mountain forecast is showing COLD, SNOWY conditions for this weekend. Then, conditions are due to moderate by the middle of next week.

Quick Tips: Fish tiny dark nymphs, larvae, worms and eggs. These are the food sorces the trout are predominately seeing and will continue to see throughout the winter. Be sure to get them down near the river bottom. Use extra split shot (where applicable) and fish your offerings "low and slow".

It is all dependent on the stream you fish and the time of day you fish it but look for a potpourri of insects on the rivers and streams this time of the year- midges (sz.22-30), BWO's (sz.20-24), and tiny winter black stoneflies. The "tiny fly" season is upon us.

If you see bugs in the air and fish slashing near the surface, these are great indicators of fish that are willing to feed on or near the surface. In this case, try to determine what insects they are consuming and the stage of the lifecycle these insects are at (emerger/pupa, cripple, dun, spinner). Then, prepare your 2 fly rig accordingly (cripple and emerger, dun and emerger, etc.).

If you dont see this behavior, fish a double nymph rig (pheasant tails, stripper midges, zebra midges, disco midges, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, egg patterns, Mercer's micro mayflies, copper John's, shop vacs, serenstupidies, Hise's sili skin caddis, rainbow warriors, Duke's Prince John, gooey caddis larva, squirmie wormy, etc.) for the most consistent success. Nymphs and larvae fished deep is always a great way to go, day in and day out on any trout stream in the world. Remember, most of the time, larger trout will move laterally for their food as opposed to vertically. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Orvis Hydros Fly Reels- Enclosed Carbon Disc Drag For Less Than $275

Available February 2010. There is not another true large arbor, big game reel on the market that carries this disc drag performance at a price starting under $200. It is unheard of until now. The new Hydros Reel Series features a sealed drag surface that increases total drag surface by model- the larger the reel, the larger the drag surface and the more resistance to handle larger fish. Using stacked carbon washers in a totally sealed configuration, controlled by a positive click adjustment system, the NEW Hydros can be fine tuned to handle any fish from a trout to a tuna with sustained and infinitely durable drag pressure. The large arbor multiplies retrieval rates, eliminates line coil, and significantly reduces fatigue resulting from multiple hook-ups. Available in 3 bold colors with a Mirage handle style. Power, price, and performance equal perfection.

Pre-order now and save 10% on your next order.      Link To Casters Online Fly Shop

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Best Fishing Specific Sunglasses in Existence

Are you amazed and puzzled at how some anglers can spot fish in areas that seem to be void of fish? There are two primary factors which need to be taken into account. Firstly, these anglers are trained to pick out fish among and within underwater objects. This phenomenon is what we call "fish eyes". Secondly, these anglers are probably wearing high quality polarized sunglasses.

It takes years to develop "fish eyes" but the second part of the equation can be solved in a snap. Get yourself a pair of high quality sunglasses and you're on your way to being a dead eye fish spotter. Orvis and Carl Zeiss have teamed up to create the best fishing specific polarized sunglasses in the world. Click below to find out more.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 Holiday Promotion at Casters Fly Shop

Been lusting over an Orvis Helios or Hydros Fly Rod? Now is your chance to get the world's lightest and 2nd lightest fly rods and receive a FREE reel in the process. How sweet of a deal is that?

Purchase a Helios and receive a Battenkill Large Arbor reel or purchase a Hydros and receive a Battenkill Mid Arbor reel, FREE. Plus, there are NO STANDARD SHIPPING CHARGES for orders shipped within the lower 48 states.

We also have many other great gifts, from $10 up. Offer is valid from November 26th until December 24th.

Link to Casters Online Fly Shop

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Popular Trout Fishing Opportunities in Western North Carolina

The trout fishing has been superb this fall. Let's keep it that way. Call 1-800-POACHER or 919-707-0030 to report illegal activity on the rivers and streams, or in the woods. Do your part, take a bite out of poaching.
The 10 day mountain forecast is showing a stint of beautiful fall weather. The warmer temps should turn the fish on so get on the water this week if you can.
It is all dependent on the stream you fish and the time of day you fish it but look for a potpourri of insects on the rivers and streams this time of the year- midges (sz.22-30), BWO's (sz.20-24), caddis (sz.10-16), etc.. The "tiny fly" season is beginning to take hold.
If you see bugs in the air and fish slashing near the surface, these are great indicators of fish that are willing to feed on or near the surface. In this case, try to determine what insects they are consuming and the stage of the lifecycle these insects are at (emerger/pupa, cripple, dun, spinner). Then, prepare your 2 fly rig accordingly (cripple and emerger, dun and emerger, etc.).
If you dont see this behavior, fish a double nymph rig (pheasant tails, stripper midges, zebra midges, disco midges, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, egg patterns, Mercer's micro mayflies, copper John's, shop vacs, serenstupidies, Hise's sili skin caddis, rainbow warriors, Duke's Prince John, gooey caddis larva, squirmie wormy, etc.) for the most consistent success. Nymphs fished deep is always a great way to go, day in and day out on any trout stream in the world. Remember, most of the time, larger trout will move laterally for their food as opposed to vertically.

Watauga County: Delayed Harvest Section of Watauga River (intersection of S.R. 1557 and S.R. 1558 to N.C. 105 bridge and S.R. 1114 bridge to N.C. 194 bridge at Valle Crucis). Call 1-800-POACHER or 919-707-0030 to report illegal activity on the rivers and streams, or in the woods. The Watauga River is a beautiful North Carolina mountain stream located in the vicinity of Boone, Blowing Rock, and Foscoe. It is within easy access to anglers traveling from Charlotte, Morganton, Lenoir, and Statesville. NCWRC put a load of fish in the Delayed Harvest section earlier this month. Fish a variety of nymph patterns under an indicator for the best results; copper John's, Mercer's micro mayflies, pheasant tails, Y2K's, Hise's eggi juan kenobi's, squirmy wormies, Hise's gooey caddis larvae, Hise's sili skin caddis, bead head flashback hares ears, Czech nymphs, depth charge Czech nymphs, San Juan worms, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, various midge larvae, Hise's ooey gooey grubs, Holy Grails, Duke's Prince John, and lightning bugs, to name a few. Also, dont forget black or white woolly buggers. Look for the above mentioned aquatic insects to be fluttering about mostly in the evening. Good Luck!

Boone Fork Creek is a catch and release stream that starts at Price Lake dam off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This stream flows into the Watauga River near Foscoe, NC. Julian Price Park, which is located just outside of Boone, NC, offers the best access. Be aware of the POSTED signs because there are various private stretches on this stream. Use the usual suspects for the wily brown trout, brook char, and rainbow trout; black woolly buggers, prince nymphs, red hot midges, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, copper John's, squirmy wormies, San Juan Worms, y2k's, and rainbow warriors have been the most productive patterns.

McDowell County: Delayed Harvest Section of Curtis Creek (the game land portion downstream of the U.S. Forest Service boundary at Deep Branch). Fishing has been decent despite the low water. Water levels are a bit better following the last shot of precipitation. Use the usual suspects (like those on the Watauga or Wilson creek).

Mitchell County: Delayed Harvest Section of North Toe River (U.S. 19E bridge to N.C. 226 bridge). The North Toe is within close proximity to Burnsville, Marion and Spruce Pine, North Carolina. Spruce Pine was recently deemed a Mountain Heritage Trout City for NC Fly Fishing. Your best bet will be to fish under the surface with nymphs and small midge larvae patterns. Try Y2K's, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, Hise's eggi juan kenobi's, glo bugs, copper John's, pheasant tails, bead head flashback hare's ears, sili skin caddis, rainbow warriors, lightning bugs, gooey caddis larva, squirmie wormy's, ooey gooey grubs, zebra midges, stripper midges, disco midges, etc..

Mitchell County: Delayed Harvest Section of Cane Creek (N.C. 226 bridge to N.C. 80 bridge). Cane Creek is also classified as Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, please refer to the NC Wildlife Commission's Regulations Digest for additional information. Your best bet will be to fish under the surface with woolly buggers and nymphs. Try Y2K's, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, Hise's eggi juan kenobi's, glo bugs, copper John's, pheasant tails, bead head flashback hare's ears, sili skin caddis, rainbow warriors, lightning bugs, gooey caddis larva, Barr's emergers, squirmie wormy's, ooey gooey grubs, etc..

Ashe County: Delayed Harvest Section of Helton Creek (Virginia state line to the New River confluence). NCWRC put a load of fish in the Delayed Harvest section earlier this month. Fish a variety of nymph patterns under an indicator for the best results; copper John's, Mercer's micro mayflies, pheasant tails, Y2K's, Hise's eggi juan kenobi's, squirmy wormies, Hise's gooey caddis larvae, sili skin caddis, bead head flashback hares ears, Czech nymphs, depth charge Czech nymphs, San Juan worms, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, various midge larvae, Hise's ooey gooey grubs, Holy Grails, Duke's Prince John, and lightning bugs, to name a few. Also, dont forget black or white woolly buggers.

The catch and release regulated section of the Davidson River is known, to many anglers, as one of the top fly fishing rivers on the east coast. This is due, in part, to its excellent population of large trout and regularly occurring hatches. You'll want to fish with mostly tiny bugs and fine tippet (from the tubes upstream of the hatchery to just below the parking lot). Try BWO nymphs, midge larvae (size 22-30), and small worm patterns. Specific patterns include zebra midges, red hot midges, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, pheasant tails, rainbow warriors, epoxy buzzers, disco midges, stripper midges, flash midges, Evenson's 2be midges, Hanner's glass of wine midges, RS2's, WD40's, WD50's, Mercer's micro mayflies, bionic brassies, and brassies.

Surry County: Delayed Harvest Section of Mitchell River (0.6 mile upstream of the end of S.R. 1333 to the S.R. 1330 bridge below Kapps Mill Dam). Mitchell River is within close proximity to Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Elkin, and Greensboro. NCWRC re-stocked the Delayed Harvest section at the beginning of the month. Utilize patterns that are productive on any Delayed Harvest or Catch and Release stream.

Burke County: Delayed Harvest Section of Jacob Fork Creek (from Shinny Creek to lower South Mountains State Park boundary). The Delayed Harvest section of Jacob Fork Creek in South Mountain State Park is in close proximity to Charlotte, Hickory, Morganton, Valdese, and Statesville. NCWRC has restocked and fishing has been fair.

Wilkes County: Delayed Harvest Sections of East Prong of the Roaring River (the mouth of Bullhead Creek downstream to Stone Mountain State Park boundary line), and Stone Mountain Creek (from falls at Alleghany County line to confluence with East Prong Roaring River and Bullhead Creek). There are more than 17 miles of trout streams in Stone Mountain State Park which is located near Elkin, North Carolina. There are numerous classifications of streams to fish, including a "trophy" section on Bullhead Creek. On Bullhead Creek, anglers pay $15 to fish one of eight beats (or sections) for the entire day. Check out the beautiful Wild Trout streams that can be hiked into and fished. Use the usual suspects; prince nymphs, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, pheasant tails, lightning bugs, Holy Grails, rainbow warriors, zebra midges, stripper midges, red hot midges, hare's ear nymphs, squirmies, and Y2K's, to name a few.

Roughly 2 miles of the Raven Fork within the Cherokee Indian Reservation (in Western North Carolina) is now open to FLY FISHING ONLY, CATCH AND RELEASE angling. This is an absolutely beautiful, crystal clear river which flows out of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Anglers must possess a valid Cherokee Indian Reservation Enterprise Waters Fishing Permit ($7.00) and the additional Special Use Permit ($20.00 annually) associated with Cherokee Trophy Trout, Catch and Release Waters. Rumor has it that the annual license is going up to $75 and the daily permit will be $10 starting December 1st. You'll want to try zebra midges, Hanner's glass of wine midges, stripper midges, copper John's, pheasant tails, Barr's emergers, Mercer's micro mayflies, squirmy wormies, white or black woolly buggers, prince nymphs, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs (orange or copper), Ian's brass asses, bionic brassies, and egg patterns, to name a few. When in doubt, go small but squirmies and y2k's have been working best. Rumor has it that some anglers are throwing pellets and then casting out a pellet fly. Good luck catching anything if this behavior is evident in your vicinity.

The Linville River originates near the Blue Ridge Parkway and a few miles later plunges 85 feet over Linville Falls into the extremely rugged Linville Gorge. The river flows through the Linville Gorge Wilderness for 17 miles, during which it drops 1,880 feet and offers one of the most difficult stretches of whitewater in the eastern United States. Recent reports from the gorge were good. Be careful if you decide to go in; boulder hopping can be dangerous. Use the usual suspects; Hise's Eggi Juan Kenobis, San Juan worms, pheasant tails, Holy Grails, hare's ear nymphs, copper John's, heavyweight stones, Kaufmann's stones, and woolly buggers.

Caldwell County: Delayed Harvest Section of Wilson Creek (the game lands boundary downstream of Lost Cove Creek to Phillips Branch). The Wilson Creek area is part of the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest. The area is just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain (just north of Morganton). Wilson Creek was added to the National Wild and Scenic River System in 2000. The headwaters are below Calloway Peak and the creek stretches over 23 miles before emptying into the John's River. Andrews Creek, Lost Cove Creek, and Wilson Creek (upper) are all managed under the NCWRC's Catch and Release, Artificial Lures Only regulations. Other notable streams in the area include North Harper and South Harper Creeks which are managed under the NCWRC's Wild Trout regulations. The Delayed Harvest section was re-stocked earlier this month. Use the usual suspects; copper John's, Mercer's micro mayflies, pheasant tails, Y2K's, Hise's eggi juan kenobi's, squirmy wormies, Hise's gooey caddis larvae, Hise's sili skin caddis, bead head flashback hares ears, Czech nymphs, depth charge Czech nymphs, San Juan worms, Hise's hetero-genius nymphs, various midge larvae, Hise's ooey gooey grubs, Holy Grails, Duke's Prince John, red hot midges, disco midges, stripper midges, and lightning bugs, to name a few. Also, dont forget black or white woolly buggers.

Macon County: Delayed Harvest Section of the Nantahala River (Whiteoak Creek to Nantahala hydropower discharge canal). Below the powerhouse is an excellent Tailrace for roughly 8 miles. Both sections offer great angling opportunities on a year-round basis. In fact, the Nantahala is listed in Trout Unlimited's Top 100 Trout Streams, and it has been featured in numerous major magazines. The Nantahala is a premier white water destination in Western North Carolina so be prepared for a flotilla of kayaks and rubber rafts. Dont be discouraged however; the wily trout are used to this floating traffic. In the upper section you'll want to fish small dries and nymphs under the overhanging bushes, especially rhododendrons. In the Tailrace portion, fish dries and nymphs that represent BWO's, and midges. Egg and worm patterns, and woolly buggers are also extremely productive.

Jackson County: Delayed Harvest Section of Tuckasegee River (N.C. 107 bridge at Love Field to the Dillsboro dam). The Tuckaseegee River flows through the towns of Sylva, Webster, and Dillsboro North Carolina. Fishing has been great on the Tuckaseegee. Use the usual suspects as those on most tailwater streams with a few crazy attractors (eggs, worms, nymphs, & streamers) thrown in the mix.

Despite its name, the New River is considered to be possibly one of the oldest rivers in the world, between 10 million and 360 million years old. It flows in a south to north course, which is against the southwest to northeast topology of the Appalachian Mountains and the west to east flow of most other nearby major rivers; especially in Virginia and North Carolina. It is formed by the confluence of the South Fork and the North Fork of the New. The New River is home to many species of freshwater game fish including bass, trout, walleye, muskellunge, crappie, bluegill, carp, or flathead and channel catfish. It is considered, by many, as one of the finest smallmouth rivers in the country. It is a extremely large and often ominous stream to fish. Anglers will find sections of fast riffle water, pools, deep pockets, and glassy flat water. It is best fished within a watercraft but can also be waded in various sections throughout; especially near the State Park accesses and along the North and South Forks. The smallies are plentiful and fairly forgiving to catch. They average 10 to 16 inches and it is not uncommon for anglers to find smallies that range in size from 18 to 24 inches. Streamers and nymphs work throughout the season and poppers rule from the summer through the fall. Try streamers like tequeely, woolly buggers, EZ mite, Dick Smith, and various baitfish and crawfish patterns.

Throw a dry/dropper rig for the best success. Try a stimi chew toy, royal Wulff, cdc para Wulff, stimulator, or elk hair with a small nymph 12-20 inches below. The wild fish are beginning to spawn so let them do their thing peacefully.

Stealth on the approach and a good presentation are the keys to success while fishing these small streams. Always remember, wild trout (and brook char) are very opportunistic and will eat just about anything when it is presented properly (and if not spooked). Try a dry/dropper set up with a high floating dry (stimulator, stimi chew toy, humpy, elk hair, light cahill, cdc para wulff (cahill), etc.) and a pheasant tail, Hise's heterogenius nymph, tellico nymph, Mercer's micro mayfly, hare's ear, lightning bug, Ian's brass ass, Hise's sili skin caddis, or copper John as the lead fly. Also, muddler minnows, Mickey Finn's, wooly buggers, and black nosed dace swung and stripped around can be quite productive. These wild fish should be doing the spawing thing so let them do it in peace.

Useful Links:
Casters Fly Shop- North Carolina 
Duke Energy Generation Schedule 
North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission  
USGS River Flow Data 
NC Weather- The Weather Channel 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Winter Fishing Tips from MidCurrent

Here are some great tips for fishing during the best time of the year. Looking for solitude, beauty, and hungry trout? This is your time.

Winter Trout Fishing, MidCurrent

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out Eminem :-)

Check out the new video a dear friend created/designed/compiled for me. I didnt realize I did all that stuff until I saw it all together. Life is about experiences and the compilation of experiences will turn into wisdom.

Dave Hise IS Casters Fly Shop from adam stielstra on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winter Angling

Winter Fishing Compilation

Our friends from Bent Rod Media put this video together, which was compiled from a day on the water with Landon Mayer, Dave Hise, and Todd Cowles. The creek was in great shape and the "nymphing" was superb. Thank you BRM for all your time and effort.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fly Patterns for Fall Trout

Fall is not only a wonderful time of the year but it is the time of the year when trout fishing can be at its best. The fish become very active after the long, hot summer, and the brown and brook trout are bulking up for the annual spawning ritual. The end result is hungry trout.

Depending on the stream you fish and the time of day you fish it, a multitude of patterns will be productive; streamers, nymphs, worms, and eggs, and dry flies all have their time and place. I believe it's best to break down the streams in your area into various classes. In the southeast, we basically have 3 types of rivers/streams; Tailraces, Wild streams, and Delayed Harvest/Hatchery Supported streams. Many of the same patterns can be used on each but there are patterns that are also specific to each. Below, I will break down some of the patterns utilized on each type of waterway. Remember, many other patterns will also be productive.

A Tailrace or Tailwater is a watercourse that carries water away from a mill, water wheel or turbine. Many of these are bottom draw where cold water is released from the bottom of area lakes, which provides constant water temperatures and allows for year around fishing opportunities. The South Holston, Watauga, Nantahalla, and Smith are some of the better known Tailraces in the southeast.

As a general rule, the most important hatches on these streams will be midges, baetis, and sulphurs, respectively. For fall, concentrate on patterns that represent the lifecycle of mostly BWO's and midges. Plus, dont forget tubifex, ova patterns, and various streamer patterns. Listed below are a few of my favorites.

Hetero-Genius Nymph

Stripper Midge (sz.24-28)
Zebra Midge (sz.24-28)
Disco Midge (sz.24-28)
San Juan Worm (sz.14-20)
Medusa (sz.16-18)
Nuke Egg (sz.14-18)
Pheasant Tail  (olive or natural, sz.18-24)
Hetero-genius Nymph (sz.18-22)
BWO Split Wing (sz. 18-22)
WD40 (sz.20-26)
RS2 Emerger (sz.20-24)
Extreme Emerger (sz.20-24)
Bunny Duns (sz.20-24)
Hackle Stackers (sz.20-24)
BWO Cripple (sz. 20-24)
Hi-Vis Parachute BWO (sz.20-24)
Sparkle Dun BWO (sz.20-24)
Sumpin' Ugly Sculpin (sz.4-6)
Super Yummy (sz.4-6)
Norms Sculpin (sz.4-6)
Weise's Bunny Love (sz.4-6)

Wild Streams: 
Wild trout streams include native brook trout, and rainbow and brown trout whose population in the stream is maintained by natural reproduction. Unfortunately, there are very few streams in the southeast that are considered catch and release and this includes the wild streams. A few notable catch and release streams in our area are the Davidson, Raven's Fork, and Big Horse Creek. Use similar patterns to those used on the Tailraces in these catch and release waters.

For the most part, a dry/dropper rig is the best way to go about fishing the wild streams from mid summer through the fall. Typically, the fishing tends to slow down in the winter on the wild trout streams. These little mountain streams tend to have far less food than many Tailwater and Freestone streams so the fish are often extremely opportunistic. A stealthy approach and a spot on presentation are the keys to success on these waters. Utilize patterns that represent terrestrials, caddis, baetis and midges; as well as, attractor patterns. Listed below are some favorites.

Parachute Adams

Parachute Adams (sz.14-24)
Orange Stimulator (sz.14-18)
Orange Palmer (sz.14)
Royal Wulff (sz.12-18)
Hi-Vis Ant and Beetle (sz.12-16)
October Caddis (sz.12-14)
Ausable Wulff (sz.12-14)
Humpy (sz-12-16)
Royal Coachman (sz.12-14)
Hi-Vis Parachute BWO (sz.18-22)
Green Weenie (sz.14-16)
Sunken Ants (sz.12-16)
Pheasant Tail (sz.18-22)
Hetero-genius Nymph (sz.16-20)
Tellico (sz.16-18)
Prince Nymph (sz.16)
Casual Dress (sz.12)
Holy Grail (sz.14-16)
Disco Midge (sz.20-26)
Zebra Midge (sz.20-26)
Yallarhammer (sz.12-14)
Black Nosed Dace (sz.8-10)
Muddler Minnow (sz.8-10)
Mickey Finn (sz.8-10)

Link to Casters Online Fly Shop

Delayed Harvest/Hatchery Supported: 
Delayed Harvest waters are stocked trout waters open to fishing year-round, but trout caught between October and June must be immediately released. You cannot keep or have in your possession any trout while fishing these waters during this time. Single-hook, artificial lures or flies are required during the October-June period. Beginning in June, harvest of trout from these waters is allowed, and anglers can use natural bait. "Hatchery Supported" trout regulations apply during this time. Beginning October 1, these waters revert back to "Delayed Harvest" trout regulations.

These waters are often a fly fisherman's favorite place to go from the fall through spring, even though poaching is a constant battle. Some notable streams in the area are Wilson Creek, Helton Creek, North Toe, and Watauga River.  The trout in these waters see a lot of pressure so they get relatively smart to mainstream patterns. A good general rule is to use patterns that you dont see every other angler using. Try some of the patterns below for consistent success. Dry flies typically aren't a good choice, especially during the winter months. You're better off fishing a double nymph rig with/without an indicator. 

Squirmy Wormie
Eggi Juan Kenobi (sz.14)
Medusa (sz.12-14)
Y2k (sz.14)
Squirmy Wormie (sz.12-14)
San Juan Worm (sz.12-16)
Lightning Bug (sz.14-20)
Serendipity (sz.16-18)
Prince Nymph (sz.14-18)
Holy Grail (sz.12-16)
Hetero-genius Nymph (sz.14-18)
Flashback Hare's Ear (sz.14-18)
Sili Skin Caddis (sz.14-16)
Ooey Gooey Grub (sz.8-12)
Duke Prince John (sz.14-18)
Woolly Bugger (sz.6-10)
Little Rascal (sz.6-8)
Sumpin' Ugly- Leech (sz.8)
Blah, blah, blah....... Again, try to use patterns that you dont see everyone else tossing.

Link to Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dominance, Subordinance, and Energy Exertion

Have you ever spotted a large trout sitting like a lump on a log in a particular lie? No matter what flies you toss he/she pays no attention? This may be a resting or hiding lie. Or, you notice a fish sitting on the bottom, moving laterally, and flaring its gills? You cast your dry/emerger combination to no avail. This is most definitely a nymphing lie.  More than likely that fish will not rise vertically to eat your patterns on the surface. Why? The food is funneling right to it so it doesn't have to move more than a few inches to the left or right.

There are countless variables as to why these different situations occur but energy metabolism is a primary factor that we, as anglers, tend not to consider. The larger the fish, the more mass it has to move in any direction. Trout are fine tuned to their domain and they are extremely efficient feeders that waste little or no movement in doing so. This is one reason why we rarely see the smarter, larger fish moving vertically (unless conditions are optimal); it is more efficient to move laterally. Moving vertically often takes more energy due to varying currents within the water column.

As a general rule, trout will not pursue a food source if more energy is going to be exerted than gained by consuming it. Of course, this depends on such conditions as water temperature, time of the year, food sources available, water levels, etc.. If the conditions are ideal and the trout's metabolism is at its peak, it will move more to find food. We can see this variation in behavior throughout the year. All we have to do is observe. For instance, during the cold months of winter or the hot months of summer we know that the trout's metabolism is at its lowest so they tend to move less. Whereas, during the months when water temps are ideal (between 55 and 65 degrees) we see fish moving more because their metabolic rate is at its highest.

Water temperature also controls the trout’s metabolism. While very cold water can hold the maximum of dO2 it also slows the trout’s metabolism to the point of suspended animation ( a cryogenic effect ). This is the way it works: from 32 f to 44 f the trout is slowed to the point of needing very little food and he has a over abundance of dO2, up to 30ppm. At 50 f to 55 f the trout’s activity increases and they actively feed for long periods of time and they still have an over abundance of dO2. When the water temperature reaches the 55 f to 65 f range you have the ideal fishing conditions. The trout’s metabolism is in high gear and they feed constantly, dO2 is in the 18 to 12ppm range and there is plenty of food. The food; aquatic insects and their larvae, minnows of all types and crustaceans are prolific and abundant. The fisherman only has to give a proper presentation and he will hook a trout. The great decline starts when the water temperature climbs to 68 f. Brown, Brook and Cutthroat trout start to feel what I call the frying pan effect. Unless there is a lot of turbulence to oxygenate the water, the dO2 falls rapidly to perilously low levels. The trout’s metabolism is racing furiously along and he is burning oxygen as fast as he can adsorb it from the water. As the sun heats the water, he uses the dO2 faster and faster. With out some type of escape valve he will suffocate.

The trout reacts to this danger in several ways. The first reaction is to decrease activity as in “the dog days of summer”. Fish sulk on the bottom and feeding seems to be nonexistent. When and if they feed it will be in the wee hours of the morning when the water is at its coolest. Water takes a long time to release heat and pre-dawn is when it will be at its coolest. The trout’s second reaction is to move to a place where there is more dO2 available. This could be as close as the head of his pool where a riffle provides the turbulence necessary for oxygenation of the water or a considerable distance. If there is a spring feeding the stream, you will find trout stacked up down stream of the plume of colder water. Ground water can be 10 to 15 degrees colder than the stream. A high shady bank can attract many trout also. FISHING FOR TROUT by Bryant J. Cochrane, Jr.

There is a positive correlation between metabolic expenditure and food intake in both dominant and submissive fish. The dominant fish usually makes better choices than its subordinates and will obtain a greater energy intake because it is often moving less.

Just as any animal in the animal world, most studies have concluded that those that practice a high return/high cost foraging strategy will actually expend more energy than they acquire, whereas those that minimize energy expenditure obtain a higher energy gain. This is one reason why we always see the smaller, subordinate fish moving more and being more opportunistic whereas the dominant fish pick their feeding times and foods wisely.

So, which is most important to a trout, shelter? food? oxygen? As a biologist I have to go with shelter followed by oxygen, water temperature and food. A trout can survive for a few weeks with out food if necessary, but with no place to hide from danger he won’t be there, even if there is plenty of dO2. As a fisherman I am most interested in the food supply, specifically the ease of a trout’s obtaining it. Let’s face it. If a fish isn’t eating you are not going to catch it. If he is too scared or too stressed by lack of dO2, he is not going to eat, and if Mr. trout isn’t opening his mouth you are just practicing casting. FISHING FOR TROUT by Bryant J. Cochran, Jr.

Try to think like a trout. Read the water, pick up rocks, look for the shadows, shapes, and flashes of fish, etc.. Bottom line, observation is key as a fly angler. Observe more than you cast. Position yourself in areas where your glare window is less and you can see more. Take 1/3rd of the time that you spend fishing and spend it looking. Believe me, you will be rewarded. If you fish with a buddy, take turns spot fishing for one another. This is productivity at its best. The result will be more fish hooked and less time aimlessly casting.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lunch Anyone?

Well..... it's finally time to begin the onslaught of fall guide trips after the long (and HOT) summer hiatus. The oldest daughter is in kindergarten and the trees are beginning to show their fall colors. This is one of my favorite times of the year. I always enjoy the lazy summers in the air conditioning, hanging with the family, and tying away in the shop but miss being in my office on the water. Not to mention, I need to work on reducing the beer induced greater omentum that was created this summer.

In the southeast, our trout season is a lot different than that of the west. Sure, we can battle poisonous snakes, heat, rhododendron, and walk miles to catch a few wily small stream trout (and char); but, for the most part, once mid June hits many southern trout anglers either hang it up for the summer, travel to troutopia (tailraces of Tennessee, Montana, Colorado, etc.), or fish for various warm-water species.

Then, September arrives. September in the southeast means cool nights, perfect days and the change of the seasons. Anglers begin gearing up for one of the longest trout seasons that I know- September through June. This is the period that I prefer to be on the water, either fishing for fun or chaperoning other anglers because this is the time of year when trout are most active; with the exception of the cold snaps in dead winter.

For many, a guided fishing trip is a treat. It's an opportunity to fish new water, meet others that share the same passion, and maybe even learn a thing or two. Fly fishing is a hobby, a passion, a religion, a way of life, or whatever you want to call it. Many people enjoy it because it's an activity that we are always learning new tactics, techniques, and methods. It's an activity in which we're always on the move. Those that reach a plateau and believe that they've Mastered it are doomed. Every fly angler needs to have an open mind and learn whatever they can, when they can, for their entire existence.

Some anglers believe that hiring a guide only means one thing; catching fish. I know I'm in for a long day when someone asks, "how many fish are we going to catch today?". Sure, that's the underlying reason of why we are out there (and some hire guides); however, as guides all we can really guarantee is hope and the "experience". After all, it's called fishing, not catching. Regardless of how good the catching is, I want my friends/clients to go away with the best "experience" imaginable. Catching fish is something I work hard to achieve but so many factors weigh in on a continual basis.

I've been a guide/instructor for over 20 years now and guiding for me is about meeting new people, seeing old friends, teaching what I know, experiencing what Mother Nature has to offer, blah, blah, blah. Some anglers are beginners, some are advanced, and others fall somewhere in between. Whatever the case, I always strive to provide the best experience possible.

Part of the "experience" is knowing a little geography, history, hydrology, science, culinary arts, you name it. As a guide, I have to be a Jack of all trades and Master of none. Call me a net boy, cameraman, chef, psychiatrist, knot tier, de-tangler, Saint, tree trimmer, etc. but it's what I do to create the ultimate "experience".

Whether the morning has been tough, average, or a barn burner, lunch always seems to settle the smoke. It's a time to recoup, hydrate, and energize oneself (in actuality, most are ready for a nap after). I take a lot of pride in my lunches and work diligently to make them another piece of the puzzle. Some guides may find this offensive but a soggy, 6 day old deli sandwich and a bag of chips purchased from the 711 usually isn't a good route to take as far as lunch is concerned.

It's about being treated special. Just like the feeling you get when you go over to grandma's for Thanksgiving dinner. Some days it's grilled beef tenderloin, fresh green beans, and homemade chicken noodle soup, others it's grilled chicken breast, fresh asparagus, and homemade white chili, and others it's crock-pot beef roast, mixed vegetables, and potatoes. Regardless of the flavor, it's about putting the extra work in and showing the friends/clients that they are an important part of the "experience".

After all, life's not about having the most and best toys, it's about the "experiences" we encounter though life. He/she who dies with the most and best "experiences" always wins.

Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide

Casters Fly Shop Fly Fishing Guide Service

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bobbin Holders

Fly tying has come a long way since its crude beginnings in the middle of the 19th century. Tiers had very few tools and materials to utilize whereas today we have more choices than we know what to do with. As a general rule, quality tools and materials usually allow fly tiers to learn faster and tie better flies. Therefore, you should always strive to obtain the best tools and materials that your budget will allow. The best place to obtain these is your local fly shop. Local fly shops are "going by the wayside" and they need all the help and support each of you can provide. 

The primary tools needed to tie flies are a vise, scissors, bobbin, bobbin threader and whip finisher (or half hitch tool).  Additional tools like a bodkin, hair stacker, hackle pliers, hackle gauge, cautery, dubbing loop tool, etc. all have specific uses, and will become important to as each tier refines their skills, and they make the decision to attempt different methods and techniques.

The concept of bobbins has been the same for the last 140 years- an important tool meant to hold a fly tiers thread, floss, and/or wire spools, and one to assist with wrapping thread around the hook. When choosing a bobbin one must consider the length of the tube, it's diameter, the tension it provides, and whether it has a stainless tube or not. In time, thread friction will wear grooves in the ends of stainless tubes, which will ultimately create thread fraying and cutting burrs; a ceramic, titanium, or ruby tip will help prevent this. Tube length and diameter also has importance in certain applications. For instance, a longer tube is advantageous because it allows more leverage when wrapping the thread and provides more control in the placement of the thread. At the same time, bobbins with a larger diameter tube are used for floss and other heavy or thick materials.  Again, these are some of the considerations that must be made when choosing a bobbin(s).

Even though the intentions are the same, bobbins and their design have changed dramatically throughout history. They began as a crude, cumbersome instrument and today they are more refined and some can perform multiple functions, like the Petitjean Thread Through Bobbin. 

I can find out anything I need about bomb making and basket weaving on the internet but I have had a difficult time finding out much about the time-line and history of fly tying and the tools used.  The Perry Bobbin from the 1940's and DH Thompson Bobbin Needle from the 1960's are 2 that you can find a little information about. 

Morris Perry was a well known Classic Salmon Fly Tying and Fishing expert from England. He moved to West Haven, Connecticut and opened a fishing shop. During World War II he invented the Perry Bobbin. It was designed of mostly wood because steel was scarce as a result of the war. In the early 1960's, he moved back to England where he fished and tied his Featherwing Salmon Flies. His partner in Long Island Sound continued to market the Perry Bobbin but the market shrunk with the lifting of  steel rationing and the flood of Asian imports. The DH Thompson Bobbin Needle is an almost identical version but is made almost entirely of steel. Boy is it heavy. I have one in the shop and it doubles as a barbell.

As mentioned beforehand, we have more options than we can shake a stick at. Listed below are some of my favorites. They are listed in accordance to their price and not necessarily in the order in which I prefer them.

Ekich Ultimate Bobbin. The $100 Bobbin. No cost was spared in sourcing the best materials possible (stainless steel, brass & anodized aircraft aluminum), nor was effort spared in achieving the highest tolerances and finishes on CNC machine centers. The result is a highly functional, durable and reliable product that will give you years of pure tying joy. This bobbin is not for everyone, although, it might just be for you.

Marc Petitjean's MP Thread Through Bobbin. The bobbin of all bobbins. You can change thread spools and thread it without even looking; plus, you can adjust the thread tension to your liking with the thread tension spring. The MP Bobbin also incorporates a wire loop for thread dubbing loops and spins on axis. Made with love by the Swiss, for the world. Bobbin not designed for light threads, like 10/0, 14/0, etc..

C&F Bobbin. Optimum bobbin weight (17g) helps provide tension. Teflon coated bobbin arms and clever Micro Slit Foam design in bobbin nose retains constant thread tension.

Wasatch Mitch's Bobbin Whirler. A standard-sized ceramic tip bobbin with dubbing hook allows tier construct loop-dubbed bodies without employing separate tools or cutting the thread. Beautiful wood workmanship. Comes with an instructional DVD included.

Stonfo Elite Disc Drag Bobbin. This machined bobbin has a hardened steel tip insert and countersunk feed that will allow thread to glide through the tube for threading and tying. The drag control has a large adjustment zone for fine tuning thread tension to your personal liking.

Renzetti Ruby Tipped Midge Bobbin. Renzetti bobbins are in a class by themselves. The ruby tip provides for ultra smooth thread delivery and excellent wear resistance. Plus, the smooth spool knobs are perfect for fine detail and lighter denier threads. The standard length tube is 2-inches long and is 3/32-inch in diameter. Also available in an extended length version (saltwater) upon request; the tube is 2 3/4-inches long and 1/8-inch in diameter.

Rite Bobbins. AMAZING VERSATILITY FOUND IN NO OTHER BOBBIN! Any standard thread spool works with all "RITE"TM Bobbins.

• 1" shorter than the "Rite" Standard Bobbin.
• Designed for tiny flies or smaller hands, but many tiers with large hands swear by this bobbin.
• Ceramic Thread Tube.
• Small Diameter Barrel.
• Removable Vinyl Grip.
• Solid Brass Arm.
• "Click" Drag Adjustment.
• 1-9 ounces of thread tension.
• The most versatile of all fly tying bobbins.

• Ceramic Thread Tube.
• Small Diameter Barrel.
• Removable Vinyl Grip.
• Solid Brass Arm.
• "Click" Drag Adjustment.
• 1-9 ounces of thread tension.
• The most versatile of all fly tying bobbins.

• Originally designed for salt water fly tying applications.
• Extra long, 3" surgical stainless steel tube.
• Large diameter thread tube, accommodates threads as large as yarn.
• Becoming popular as a rod-winding tool. Accommodates Gudebrod and Dynacord rod wrapping thread.
• Heavy duty click drag system, 2-16 ounces of thread tension.

• Longer reach with 2 ½" Ceramic insert.
• All surgical quality stainless steel components.
• Very high pressure click drag system.
• Heavy duty thread tension, 2-16 ounces thread tension.
• Perfect for longer hooks such as streamers.
• Excellent for spinning deer hair.

Tiemco Ceramic Bobbins. The Tiemco bobbins have ceramic tubes to ensure smooth winding of fly tying thread for years to come. They last many times more than conventional steel bobbins. I have personally tied with one for more than 15 years. Available in straight or curved.  

Griffin Ceramic PeeWee Bobbin. This small bobbin is only 3" long. It will hold a standard spool of thread while it fits perfectly in your palm. Flared on the in-feed end it also carries the ceramic insert. Griffin is one of the leaders in the creation of fine fly tying tools.

Montana Fly River Camo Ceramic Bobbin. This bobbin is the coolest tool since the introduction of hand axes. Ceramic lined stainless tube is made to last. These bobbins come in a brown or rainbow trout pattern. Great gift for the "hard to shop for" fly tyer.

These aren't the only bobbins on the market that tiers prefer; it all comes down to personal preference. Share your favorite bobbin with us.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fly Pattern of the Fall- Squirmy Wormie

All we can say is, DEADLY! This squiggly worm has the tendency to TEAR THEM UP. Trout, steelhead, panfish, bass, carp, you name it. This pattern has caught them all. Wild, stocked, native, invasive, squirmy has no limits. It has been our best selling fly since last winter. Available only at Casters Fly Shop Online Store in Glow in the Dark, Purple, Blue, Red, Orange, and Insect Green.

Beware, this pattern will make you squeamish if you're a purist. Some say, "you may as well be fishing with garden hackle and salmon eggs". Phewy! It's still a fly regardless of the material used. How can we say that? We sit at the bench and tie every one of them. Take away synthetic fly tying materials and we'll be left with very little to play with at the bench. No more Mushmouths, EP Crabs, Chernobyl Ants, Pole Dancers, Hise's Waxy's, Kinky Muddlers, Norm's Sculpins, Tequeely's, High Vis Ants and Beetles, San Juan Worms, blah, blah, blah.

Remember, its all about being on the water or even at the fly tying bench. To each his own. Just try not to dis those who choose to do things differently than you choose, especially if they are within the legal bounds of the law.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fly Rod 101- The Road to the Orvis Access Fly Rod

The Orvis Company has over 150 years of rod making tradition combined with the most innovative technology available in the world today. Regardless if you believe it or not, Orvis is the leading innovator in the fly rod market. The introduction of the Helios fly rod series several years ago has paved the way for a rod design revolution. Many devout Sage, Winston, Loomis and Scott users have added a Helios or 2 to their rod collections. Why? They perform better than they are suppose to perform.

Recent breakthroughs in fiber/resin combination's by a US military contractor has provided Orvis with its raw materials to allow rod designers to create rods that are ultra-lightweight, responsive, crisp and powerful; yet, extremely durable. This technology is only found in the United States which means all the rods mentioned are made by Master craftspeople in Manchester, Vermont.

Historically, even “100% graphite” rods were almost 50% fiberglass. Rod manufacturers were using 100% graphite for the power fibers of the rod, but an equal amount of cross-weave fiberglass scrim was rolled into the blank (scrim is necessary for hoop strength, or keeping the hollow rod tube from collapsing under stress as the rod bends). Was ignoring this fiberglass misleading? No more than ignoring the epoxy and paint on the outside of a rod, or the resin that held the graphite together. A 100% graphite rod would merely be like a hank of loose hair in your hand. Orvis’ first modern breakthrough in graphite rods was the T-3 rod. Heavier, more brittle epoxy resins used to hold the graphite fibers were replaced with lighter, more durable thermoplastic resins, which encased the fibers instead of just sticking to them like epoxy. Next were the Zero Gravity rods, where the cross-weave fiberglass/epoxy scrim was replaced by a unidirectional graphite/epoxy scrim. This made rods lighter and more durable. Finally, the Helios, which replaces the graphite/epoxy scrim with unidirectional graphite/thermoplastic scrim. The Orvis Company

Then came the Hydros. The world's second lightest fly rod. Using graphite design technology found in the award winning Helios, the Hydros rods have similar taper designs but are finished with lightweight chrome snake guides, brushed and anodized two-tone skeletal reel seats, and super-grade cork handles. An exceptional rod in the $500 class.

The Mother-ship has done it again. Orvis has designed and created a mid priced fly rod that is the lightest in its class and at an even better value. The end result is the Access Series of fly rods. They utilize the "Exclusive Load Ratio" developed by Orvis rod designers for the Helios and Hydros rods, which in layman's terms produces a rod that feels powerful yet lively when casting and even playing a fish. I have field tested these rods for Orvis and must say they are beautiful to fish with. This is even in comparison to the Helios which is all I've fished with since their inception several years back.

Weight and price comparison chart for equivalent rods:
Model                                     Weight           Price 
Orvis Access 905-4                    2.5             $350.00
Sage VT2 590-4                         3.3             $475.00
St Croix Legend Ultra 905.4        3.6            $340.00
Temple Fork Axiom 05 904 A     3.9            $249.95  

The price is kept in a very reasonable range because the new process allows them to build a rod with epoxy resins toughened with a small amount of thermoplastics instead of the more expensive thermoplastic resins throughout, yet still maintaining superior strength. The tapers are a result of a mixture of high- and intermediate-modulus carbon fiber materials, along with precise placement of scrim (the material that provides hoop strength for the rods) of various types and at various angles along the rods.  
Access rods are completely new, from raw materials to tapers to hardware. Blanks are a deep glowing root beer color, with matching woven carbon reel seat and champagne aluminum hardware. Cork is a new super-grade cork, some of the finest we’ve seen in years. Guides are hard chrome. Each rod comes with a Safe Passage Rod Carrying Case. The Orvis Company

Available this fall, the Orvis Access fly rods are the next page in Orvis' book of fly rod design. Pre-order an Access (or order a Helios or Hydros) from Casters Fly Shop now and receive a FREE Wonderline; plus, FREE SHIPPING in the Continental United States and NO SALES TAX when ordered and shipped outside of North Carolina. International shipping charges will be applied.

Casters Online Fly Shop

Friday, August 27, 2010

Brief History of Fly Tying and the Fly Tyers of the World

Fly tying has come a long way since its crude beginnings in the early 19th century. There seems to be conflicting dates but you get the general idea. The history of fly tying is concomitantly tied to the evolution and history of fly fishing. The basic fly tying methods and techniques have not changed dramatically since the origins but there have been sensational changes in the tools and materials that are used, especially with synthetics, hook designs, and vises.

The first flies were tied bare handed, literally, but the advent of vises made the whole process a bit easier. Even to this day tyers aim to impress others by tying flies with their bare hands. This really makes no sense to me because we have vises to utilize; however, I guess it can be equated to hunting with a traditional long bow and arrow instead of a high powered rifle. The process takes one back to the roots and tradition of the activity.

One of the earliest references to the use of a fly tying vise is in Ogden on Fly Tying (London, 1887). The first vises were a crude rendition of today's version's but they did the job and allowed for more detailed work compared to holding the hook with the bare hand. Similar to whip finishing by hand as opposed to using a great little tool fly tyers affectionately call a whip finisher.

Through the years, much has been written about the imitation theories of fly design but not all successful fly patterns actually imitate something to the fish. At the same time, some patterns don't catch any fish at all. Back to the drawing board.

Patterns are often categorized as attractors, imitators, attractor/imitators, impressionistic, searchers, etc.. Today, there is a huge range of fly patterns that are both documented and undocumented. These patterns were created for a multitude of species, including trout, salmon, steelhead, Atlantic salmon, carp, bass, bonefish, tarpon, trevally, pike, and the list goes on. In fact, just about every species in the world is sought after by fly fisherperson's. Fly anglers are even constructing flies that catch various species of fish that forage on vegetable matter and plankton, like the elusive milkfish and grass carp.

The options are endless and the amount of patterns in the world today are almost infinite. Technological advancements in the field have a lot to do with this phenomenon but we must also honor numerous icons for their creative spark and motivation to better fly fishing and fly tying- Marbury, LaFontaine, Whitlock, Swisher, Richards, Marinaro, etc., etc.. If you're not familiar with these names you need to do a bit of research and reading; they come highly recommended. These great minds have paved the way for us to be able to do what we are doing today. They were well ahead of their time. 

Today, the talent we see in fly tying from around the world is boundless. To help promote some of these superb tyers, I created a special section on the Casters Online Fly Shop. The individuals showcased in the Fly Tyers of the World section are just a few of the multitude of tyers that are doing really cool and innovative work at the bench. So far, we are blessed to feature the flies of Andres Touceda, April Vokey, Dave Hise, Matt Erny, Nick Garlock, Al Ritt, Thomas Harvey, Ulf Hagstrom, Tyler Legg, and hopefully more to come. Please view their bios and purchase a pattern (or two) to show your support. Also, let me know if you're interested in joining the ranks of this group of tyers.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Refined Tastes or Precise to a Fine Degree- BEER

I figured it was time for a topic that was different from fishing and tying but still goes hand in hand with such activities. BEER! Undergraduate, graduate school, and beyond were spent drinking such popular brands as Coors, Olympia, Milwaukee's Best, Shaffer, Hamm's, Schlitz, PBR, Mickey's, Colt 45, and a beer from Aldi Foods affectionately labeled Beer. My mouth is watering now; but talk about hangovers of the worst kind. Not that any hangover is good but hangovers from cheap beer top them all.

Now I live by the old Skip Pierce adages, "life's too short to drink cheap beer" and "if you drink that "stuff" you are sure to piss foam for 3 days". For those who dont know Skip, he's one of those great men I consider one of my "elders". A crotchety, Irish fisherman who is 3/4's of a century old, and has the best dry sense of humor you will find. One of those men you are proud to call a friend and go belly up to the bar with. As far as I know his word is gold; his only downfalls are he is a Carolina Panther and Boston Celtic fan. Go Lakers!

Anyhow, at 43 I feel my tastes in food and beer have become refined to the nth degree. We are all entitled to our individual tastes and I have mine. I enjoy all the greater things in life- authentic Thai, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Filipino, and yes, American food and, of course, a good beer to compliment such fine cuisine (or even a good beer by itself).

Some may call me a beer snob, braggart, highbrow, name-dropper, parvenu, pretender, smarty pants, or stiff neck but there is something to be said about a tasty micro brew in appropriate beer glass.

So what's in a beer glass? Hopefully beer, but there's much more to be found. Though some beer novices say "the vast majority of glassware is just marketing," this couldn't be further from the truth. As BeerAdvocates, we feel that beer drinkers deserve better than this. So here's the real deal ...

Sure, there's a marketing component to beer glassware, but one only needs to look beyond the branding to discover that something bigger is taking place. As soon as the beer hits the glass, its color, aroma and taste is altered, your eye candy receptors tune in, and your anticipation is tweaked. Hidden nuances, become more pronounced, colors shimmer, and the enjoyment of the beer simply becomes a better, more complete, experience.

Still think it's just marketing? Well the sophomoric pun "head is good" has a mature side. Scientific studies show that the shape of glassware will impact head development and retention. Why is this important? The foam created by pouring a beer acts as a net for many of the volatiles in a beer. What's a volatile? Compounds that evaporate from beer to create its aroma, such as hop oils, all kinds of yeast fermentation byproducts like alcohol, fusels and fruity esters, spices or other additions. So a glass that promotes a healthy foam head may enhance the trapping of certain volatiles. And as varying levels of head retention and presentation are desired with different styles of beers, different styles of glassware should be used accordingly. Presentation marries science. BeerAdvocate

Some may like an old fashioned, mass produced American brew and some may like the fruits of a finely brewed, small batch micro brew. I prefer the latter. It's good ole' human craftsmanship at its best. There are  MANY STYLES OF BEER out there and I, unlike others, prefer the high octane flavor of Double IPA's, Belgian Strong Pale Ales, Belgian IPA's, Tripels, American IPA's, and American Double/Imperial IPA's. I dont believe that "any beer is good beer". Everyone has different tastes and we are entitled to the FREEDOM of having individual tastes.

Here are my top 5, well 6. I had a hard time breaking it down to so few because I enjoy the taste of so many; but these are some of my precise tastes to a fine degree.

1. Bell's Hop Slam
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  10.00% ABV

Winter. Serving types had: bottle (1520), on-tap (189), cask (18), growler (14).

Brewed with honey. Hoppy as hell.
A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam, what did you expect?

2. Van Steenberge Brewery Piraat
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian IPA |  10.50% ABV

Year-round. Serving types had: bottle (659), on-tap (73), cask (1).

A robustly bitter strong Belgian pale ale.
Piraat is a wickedly rich and rounded brew that packs a mighty punch. The powerful glow builds up from inside. Deep golden with a subtle haze. Lots of hops and malt. Mild sweetness. Reminiscent of bread dough, spices and tropical fruits.

3. Avery Brewing Company Maharaja
Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  10.30% ABV

Rotating. Serving types had: bottle (980), on-tap (169), growler (12), cask (7), nitro-bottle (1).

ABV varies slightly batch to batch.
Much like its namesake, this imperial IPA is regal, intense and mighty. With hops and malts as his servants, he rules both with a heavy hand. The Maharaja flaunts his authority over a deranged amount of hops: tangy, vibrant and pungent along with an insane amount of malted barley - fashioning a dark amber hue and exquisite malt essence.

4. Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.00% ABV

Year-round. Serving types had: bottle (950), on-tap (67), cask (7), growler (6).

Mouthful of Hops and huge rich Malt has a guarantee built right into the name!

5. Founders Double Trouble
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.40% ABV

Rotating. Serving types had: bottle (626), on-tap (73), growler (10).

86 IBUs and 9.4% ABV.
An imperial IPA that was brewed to turn your world upside down. Hops have got you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front paired with a malt balanced backbone and a smooth bitter finish.

6. Chimay Tripel
Brewed by:
Bières de Chimay (Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont) visit their website

Style | ABV
Tripel |  8.00% ABV

Year-round. Serving types had: bottle (1002), on-tap (162), nitro-tap (2), growler (1).

The beer's flavor, as sensed in the mouth, comes from the smell of hops. Above all it is the fruity notes of muscat and raisins that give this beer a particularly attractive aroma.

WOW! That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It's only 8am but I am now craving some suds. Now I have an even better appreciation for those who have to taste food and drink for the purpose of review. Andrew Bourdain is one lucky soul. These aren't the only beers in the world that are great but they are one's I crave and go back to on a regular basis. Several are small batch beers so they are only available for a short time during certain times of the year. Thanks to BeerAdvocate and Gails Hops and Grapes for being by my side.

On another note,  Old Hickory Brewery (a local brewery here in Hickory) gets an honorable mention for their new beer Death By Hops. Amazing!

Death By Hops- Winner of the First Olde Hickory Pro Am competition. Very limited production. Our brew master says:
       71lbs of high alpha hops were used to make this limited production beer of only 13 barrels. That’s just over 20 grams of hops used for each pint! DBH was brewed with 2 row barley, Carapils and Crisp Crystal 45 malts and fermented to 7% alc/vol. DBH was hopped with 5 different West Coast hops: Chinook, Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial and Cascade. Additionally, DBH was twice dry hopped with different combinations of these hops. The net result is an amazing aroma of ripe juicy fruit mixed in with a bouquet of spring flowers. DBH was brewed to a level of bitterness of 108 IBU’s, and leaves a lingering bitterness; it is, after all, a Double IPA!