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!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Invasive Species- Do Your Part

“Pathways” describes the modes by which invasive species move from one place to another. These pathways can be natural, as when species are moved on ocean currents, wind currents, or carried by an animal from one place to the next. At the same time, some pathways are human induced and can be intentional or unintentional. Asian carp, didymo, snakeheads, zebra mussels, etc.. Regardless of what they are and how they were transmitted, anglers need to do their part to help prevent the spread of such species from one waterway to the next.

Didymosphenia geminata, otherwise known as "rock snot", is one invader that is spreading like wildfire in our rivers and streams. Conservation groups, like FFF and Trout Unlimited, are trying to do their part to help prevent the spread of such invasives, including this single celled algae, from one waterway to the next. Its unfortunate but fly fisherman seem to be bearing the brunt of the criticism over the spread of invasives. 

Lately, there has been a huge push for a ban on felt soled wading boots but it is going to be difficult to implement a government regulated ban on felt soles, as New Zealand and parts of Alaska have implemented. Felt is a problem, but is it really the only part of an anglers wading system that harbors the spores of these aquatic hitchhikers? I think not but I'm not a scientist. It seems to me that the stitches, fabrics, laces, creases and crevices (that come with attached gravel guards), are perfect places for these little creatures to hide out.

Therefore, I believe more has to be done than just calling for a felt sole ban. What I'm concerned about is that a switch over to rubber will give anglers a false sense of security. Its human nature. Many will become apathetic and less vigilant in inspecting, and cleaning their gear because they consciously or subconsciously think that their gear is safe. Call me a pessimist but think about it.

Orvis' stance on the matter is far more conducive to nipping at the problem at hand. All your gear needs to be inspected, cleaned, and dried, regardless of your soles.  Here's what Orvis has to say about the issue:

Invasive species are a real threat to our fisheries across the globe and it’s encouraging that all companies that manufacture wading gear are looking at alternatives to felt soles and other fabrics that prevent these aquatic hitchhikers from moving from one place to another. Orvis is working on this problem from many directions, and below is an explanation and clarification of their position on the subject.

Are felt soles becoming obsolete? Will I have to throw away my felt-soled wading shoes? Should I even buy a pair of felt-soled wading shoes or waders?

There is no doubt that felt, along with porous fabrics in wading shoes and laces, help transport invasive species without proper care. However, if you always fish the same watershed, felt soles are not a problem. Aquatic birds and mammals transport far more spores that you can on your felt soles. Thus, you can keep your felt-soled waders reserved for a specific watershed. In addition, you can greatly minimize the threat by cleaning, drying, and inspecting your felt soles after each fishing trip. Trout Unlimited has called for a ban on selling and producing felt-soled wading shoes by 2011 but it’s doubtful that we’ll see a wholesale, government-regulated domestic ban on felt soles like the ban New Zealand has implemented, anytime soon. So, if you are used to the idea of wearing felt soles and will use them on the same watershed, rest assured your current or future felt-soled wading shoes won’t be obsolete.

What is Orvis doing for the future?

In their continuing effort to be an industry leader, Orvis has partnered with Vibram to develop the new EcoTraX™ wading boot outsole. The sole has been added to a new wading boot, as well as, some of the existing styles, creating the River Guard series of wading products. Using Vibram’s® innovative Idrogrip compound, which offers 30% better grip on wet surfaces, Orvis created an exclusive tread pattern that offers a high percentage of sharp leading edges for maximum grip while helping to keep the pattern clean of mud and debris. Additionally, by incorporating tungsten-carbide screw-in studs, anglers can achieve a level of grip that is comparable to the felt-soled boots they have used for years. This sole was designed primarily to help mitigate the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) such as didymo, mud snails and the whirling disease spores. While the sole is designed not pick up excessive amounts of stream debris it is still important that anglers follow a few basic steps to help reduce the chance of spreading aquatic hitchhikers.
1. Remove all mud and vegetation from your equipment prior to leaving your fishing location.
2. Eliminate as much water from gear as possible before transporting.
3. Clean all your equipment with hot water (>104°F/40°C).
4. Thoroughly dry all your gear before entering a new body of water.

What about chemical equipment?

While true that some chemical treats, such as 409 and chlorine bleach, will kill ANS like mud snails and didymo, they are harsh on equipment and harmful to the environment. Can you imagine what fishing access sites, riparian zones and river water would look and smell like if everyone got out of the water and doused their gear in 409 and bleach? For more information on ANS and what you can do to help stop the spread, visit www.orvis.com/invasivespecies.

Invasives are here and spreading faster than you can imagine so we all need to do what we can to help. You are also correct in assuming that rubber, by itself, isn't a safe alternative to felt. However, studded rubber boots are just as safe, if not more so. Not to mention, studded rubber soles wont collect snow like felt has the tendency to do. I always wanted to be 6'6" (for purposes of playing basketball) and the only time that I seem to reach that height is in the winter when there is snow along the streams edge.

Here are a few safe options that Orvis has put together for your wading pleasure.

Riverguard Ultralight Wading Boot

Riverguard Silver Label Bootfoot Waders   

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Cling or Not to Cling- Epeorus Clinger Nymph

The inspiration for this fly came with the excitement and preparation for a recent trip to the Madison River in Montana. The Epeorus is one of the most important mayfly emergence's on the Madison, below Quake Lake. The nymphs are stoneclingers, which characteristically cling tightly to the rocks in the heaviest flows of the river; the Slide In is a perfect place for such an environment (don't forget to drop in and say hey to Kelly). They are dark hued, 2 tailed, and have an extremely flat profile.
Nymphs are dark-hued clingers that are easily distinguished by their two tails, a physical characteristic shared by no other mayfly nymph. Many people confuse Epeorus nymphs with another mayfly clinger, the Pale Evening Dun. My theory is that this confusion arises from the fact that the later has a fly named after it while the former lacks that honor. This confusion is easily resolved: simply looking at the tails of the nymph (two for Epeorus) will resolve any uncertainties.
Epeorus nymphs, like all mayfly clingers, are well-adapted to their fast-water environment. Their body, head, and legs are all flattened to hug the rock and minimize the force of the current pushing on them. I often pull rocks out of fast water, and the only mayflies that survive the quick trip through the fast current are Epeorus.
Epeorus nymphs are terrible swimmers (perhaps the worst, considering they don't even migrate or rise prior to emergence!), and if dislodged can drift long distances before regaining contact with the bottom. Despite their pitiful swimming skills, however, they rarely lose their grip, and are seldom available to trout. Epeorus Mayflies by Jeff Morgan
Sure a Clouser swimming nymph, pheasant tail, or fox squirrel style nymph will do the trick but I wanted to take it a step beyond and spin up something a bit more realistic. The pattern I ended up putting together was influenced by the tying prowess of some of my heroes in the fly tying world- Ulf Hagstrom, Steve Thornton, and Oliver Edwards. Boy did this conglomeration rail 'em in the fast water slicks, along the edges of the river. Thank you gentlemen. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Fish or Not to Fish- Tips on Reviving Fish

I just need to give my 2 cents on reviving fish. I have heard too many stories, as of late, of anglers seeing trout lying belly up in the stream. Sometimes we forget (or are just not aware) how we are suppose to revive and release our fish; let alone the trophy.

Trout fishing during the "Dog Days" is not only about trying to tickle the desire of experiencing euphoria but it's about the importance of the fish and being sure you do your part to revive them properly. It's more of an ethical issue than anything. To fish or not to fish?  I have nothing against anglers fishing during this time of the year but certain steps need to be taken to insure that your catches are fought and released properly.

First and foremost, get on the water from dawn until about noon, if you can. The overnight period is the only time during the 24 hour day that the river and streams have time to cool down a smidgen. That being said, with 90 plus degree days and 70 plus degree nights, like we have here in the Southeast US and elsewhere, there really isn't much of  a cool down during that period. Therefore, unless you're fishing a higher elevation, spring fed stream with tons of canopy, or a bottom draw tailwater, I don't think you should trout fish at all. Remember, ideal water temperatures for the cold water trout are between 44 and 64 degrees.  Below is a caption about reading the water but it covers temperature ranges, oxygen levels, and the Mr. trouts metabolism (which is controlled mostly by water temperatures).

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.  Fishing for Trout by Bryant J. Cochran, Jr.

Next, when you hook a fish land it as quickly as you possible. Try not to putter aimlessly (what I call lallygagging) while playing a fish. Put the "wood" to them, or graphite in our day and age. Use the heaviest leader and tippet material you can get away with. Fluorocarbon is always your best bet. Orvis Mirage is some of the best you'll find.

Once you get the fish to the net (something you must be sure to have and hopefully one with rubber netting like Brodin manufactures). Once netted, be sure to let the fish rest a bit in the net before anything else is done. If you need the "grip and grin" shot be sure to leave the fish in the water, facing upstream, and making sure you have your ducks in a row before you take the shot. When you're ready and the cameraman is ready, pick the fish up and take the shot. Then, back to the net. It is important to learn to hold fish and PLEASE DONT DROP THEM.

Now we're ready to revive them. When reviving, dont move them back and forth in the current (the back part sends water through the gills in the wrong direction). Just hold them in the current with their head facing upstream, in a good bubble line. You'll want to revive them at least twice as long as it took to land them. Maybe even more this time of the year. The lactic acid builds to a point the fish needs extra help getting the oxygen levels and blood pH back to normal; especially the bigger fish. 

What is Lactic Acid Buildup?
Physical exertion from a particularly long fight causes an oxygen deficiency in a fish’s tissues. This forces the fish’s muscles to function without oxygen (anaerobically), which in turn causes lactic acid to build up in the muscle tissue and diffuse into the blood. This subsequently causes the blood pH to drop. Even slight changes in pH can cause disruptions of the metabolic processes that may ultimately kill the fish.
If an angler avoids handling the fish and releases it quickly, its blood pH usually returns to normal and the fish survives. But while fish may appear alive after a long fight, when released, the imbalance in the blood chemistry may kill them as much as three days after capture. This is why, with any species, it’s important to choose the right tackle for the job and get the fish in as quickly as possible.  Easy Does It by Captain John Murray 
Here is another great article from Midcurrent that is a must read: Good Trout Release Practices .

Fluorocarbon Leader and Tippet Material

Brodin Ghost Nets

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tired of Out of Date Fishing Reports? Search No more.

I'm sure there is a plethora of anglers out there who have arranged a fishing trip to waters they've never been to, let alone fished. Some of those probably have connections they can rely on for local knowledge and inside information. While others have to rely on information that they collect from researching the designated area. Of course, these days the internet is the primary resource for such research.

To me, there is nothing worse than looking on a website for such information and seeing a fishing report from 3 years ago. I'm guilty of not keeping up with my reports but at least make an effort to make changes to them on a somewhat regular basis. This usually depends on the season. For instance, I fish very little during the dog days of summer. Not out of preference, it's just too darn hot in some areas of the southeast for productive fishing on a daily basis; so my reports remain somewhat stagnant. On the other hand, I'm on the water quite a lot from fall through spring; so I update my reports frequently.

Anyhow, I'd like make those aware of a great resource for up-to-date fishing reports and local knowledge. Orvis has come up with an ingenious method of getting this information. They have called upon the immense network of Orvis Endorsed operations throughout North America, like Guides, Lodges, and Outfitters, to take a nip out of those archaic fishing reports.  Plan your next fishing trip today.

Welcome to the most complete report of fly fishing conditions in North America. Our professional reports are updated weekly with stream and river flows, tides, recommended flies and equipment, and special fishing tips for the most important fly-fishing destinations in North America. Plan your next fishing trip knowing you'll arrive without any surprises—or discover some new fishing destinations in your area.

Link to Fly Fishing Reports and Conditions

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Step by Step- Hise's Big Fly Big Fish

Big Fly Big Fish was designed to imitate a sculpin and it is extremely effective for trout, steelhead, and smallmouth bass. It is most productive when fished under a sink-tip fly line, swung, and/or stripped along the river bottom. Remember, streamers are most productive on rain swollen rivers where large predatory fish are on the prowl for a big meal. Sculpins are just the morsel. Big Fly Big Fish is deadly on the Tailwater rivers of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Montana during periods of generation. Designed and tied by Dave Hise.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fly of the Week

You're probably all tired of seeing this darn nymph but it is actually that good. I enjoy tying patterns that catch fish and I enjoy seeing anglers catch fish on them. The Hetero-genius nymph provides a realistic design with a hint of flash and attraction.

I have fished this nymph pattern, religiously, since the early 90's and it has fooled trout in streams throughout the world. Skeptics say it's for "stockers", which is true but it will catch the wiliest of trout in the wild as well. I've had testimonials from anglers who have used it, with great success, in locales like New Zealand, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Argentina, Germany, California, Canada, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, you name it.

Why is it so productive? It is a great searching nymph but also shows characteristics of a multitude of mayfly, stonefly, and caddis species. Consider this pattern the represent all nymph of all represent all nymphs. Long line nymph it or fish it under an indicator for the best results.

 Hetero-Genius Nymph Step By Step Video

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jurassic Park Rendition

Well..... summer is about to lose its grip which means fall is right around the corner. It's just about time for me to head back to the place where the GIANTS lurk. Jurassic Park, Pigville, Hogland, call it what you'd like. All I know is there are opportunities for a trout of a lifetime on a daily basis. Without having to spend 1000's of dollars and traveling half way around the world.

Charlotte with a TOAD. Fish blew out the 15lb. net scale.
There are trout in the 12lb. plus range that we see time after time, year after year. These fish have PhD's in fly identification; therefore, they are often extremely difficult to trick. Your angling skills will be tested but the experience will be noteworthy. Always remember that "luck is a skill" when it comes to angling.

Stream X has one of the heaviest bio masses of any stream sampled in the lovely Commonwealth of Virginia. These fish eat like sows in the proverbial pig trough. The shallow flats part with life with each wading step- dace, sculpins, craws, shiners, chubs, suckers, horny heads, you name it. Not to mention, the abundant aquatic and terrestrial insects. I've seen 10lb. fish come to the surface and devour 8-10 inch horny heads that we had at the end of the line. Only to take it to the bottom and snap the line with a massive gator role. Incredible sight!

I do what I do because I love it. I love the smiles but mostly the excitement in peoples eyes when something special happens. Experiences are what life is all about. In fact, one can never have too many experiences, especially good experiences.
"It was a real treat to observe a very large trout in his feeding zone go through the process of picking out the fly moving toward him, assessing whether or not it was worth eating, and then positioning himself to take the fly. Then.... actually watching him turn, open his mouth, and take the fly. Exciting stuff to watch for any fly fisherman. I also very much appreciated observing how a true professional guide goes about his business. I found it interesting how you assessed our personalities and then tailored your attention and support to each of us. Thank you for a day full of memories." Lee Rinehart

"Just wanted to say thanks again for the trip in Virginia yesterday. Al and I both had a fantastic time and would like to do it again sometime. I don't think either one of us will soon forget that 'hog' stripping out his line into the backing!" John Meier

"Just wanted to thank you for an amazing experience. Elizabeth and I went to bed laughing because all we could see were fish in the river when we closed our eyes. Truly an amazing way to begin. Not to let you down on our excitement about the size of the fish, but we really enjoyed the lessons just as much. I can't tell you how much more confident we both are from one day with you. You are where you were meant to be." Jamie Ference

When the conditions are right and the stars are aligned, this is sight fishing for trout at its best. To me, there is nothing better than spotting a feeding fish, positioning the angler, directing he/she where to cast, watching the fish rear up on the fly and flare the gills, then shouting "Set the hook". I enjoy the hunt and watching the process unfold more than being the one holding the rod. In fact, it's more of a rush for me to assist and coach during this process.

Join me for a day on the water. Fishing is fishing not catching but I can bet you will still have a memorable experience. And, maybe even a decent stream side meal :)

Dave Hise- Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide

Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide 

and on and on......

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To Articulate or Not to Articulate

Articulated flies come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Many ask the question, "Is an articulated fly more productive than a non-articulated one?"

That is an age old question that dates way back. In the early 1970's, Carl Richards and Doug Swisher mastered the art of extended bodied and articulated flies, like the Extended Body Wiggle Nymph. I'm not sure what pre-dates their research and techniques but they were very instrumental in the techniques that many tyers are using today.

"Observation of nymphs swimming about in the aquarium revealed possibilities for several different patterns. We noticed that many species, especially Ephemerella, Stenonema, and Leptophlebia, swim with a distinct undulating movement of the abdomen. Also, the front pair of legs extends forward while the middle and hind pair extend to the rear. Attempts to imitate this situation resulted in extended-body and wiggle nymphs...."
 Selective Trout: Revised and Expanded Edition Swisher and Richards

If you aren't aware of this book, you need to get it and read it. Every fly angler should know who Carl Richards and Doug Swisher are. The world of fly fishing wouldn't be where it is today without the work of such greats as Richards, Swisher, Whitlock, Pobst, Lyons, and Rosenbauer (to name a few). We'd still be in the dark ages without all of their incredible contributions. Honor them. Remember that we are all able to do what we are doing today because of their accomplishments.

Anyhow, I'll crawl of my soap box. Articulation, whether used on streamers, nymphs, or dries, gives increased natural movement to the fly. It has been proven time and time again that the undulation and movement of articulated flies fools more fish. Of course, it's not about catching fish, it's about the experience of being one with Mother Nature. Right? That's what I've been told at least.

Hise's Sumpin' Ugly Series- Sculpin
Today, there are many great tyers who are tying articulated flies, like Kelly Galloup and Derek Fergus. The options are almost endless but the technique is the same. Many of the patterns I wrap up at the bench are articulated in some form or another. Don't be afraid to give them a whirl. They will add a different element to your tying and will also help you catch more fish. Below, are a few patterns I have used, religiously, for many, many years.

Sly and the Family Stone

Hise's Sumpin' Ugly Series - Minnow

Step By Steps & Videos

More Step By Step Videos

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Waxy- The Deadly Waxworm

Have you grown tired of watching the winter bait chuckers slaying fish on waxworms drifted under a bobber? Well, you could join them by grabbing yourself a new Centerpin rod and reel, a saw dust filled canister of live waxworms, and a Drennan bobber. Or, you can continue to be hard headed by aimlessly throwing your fly rod with some sort of crazy creations at the end; which you are convinced will catch a steelie in sub 35 degree water.

Search no more! Hise's Waxy is a deadly waxworm imitation, especially for winter trout and steelhead. Notice the legs on the critters underside? Pretty cool technique.

I have heard conflicting reports about what a waxworm actually is but have come to the conclusion that it is the larvae of a certain moth, Pyralidae. In the wild, these creatures live as nest parasites in bee colonies where they eat the cocoons, pollen, and shed skins of bees; but, they also chew through beeswax. Fish love 'em but they probably wont ever see them in their natural environment.

Why do fish enjoy them so much? Possibly their smell (or stink) but also because most fish love worms and grubby looking things. They pop in their mouth like a piece of Flavor Burst Buggle Gum. Yummmmmmmmy! Hise's Waxy doesnt have the desired scent but they sure look the part.

Waxy is most effective when dead drifted under an indicator or high stick nymphed through the runs and pools. Designed and hand tied by Dave Hise. Try your hand at tying one or have them tied for you. Keep in mind, they aren't inexpensive.

Casters Fly Shop Website

Waxy Step By Step