Monday, December 1, 2014

First Outfit.

Everyone needs a first outfit. Whether skier, fly fisher, climber or upland hunter. Before I write any further just so you know I am not on any of the following manufacturers "Pro Staff" (that is another post for when I retire), I don't receive a cut or kick back, I do have an industry plan with some of the companies and not with others. Cards on the table. I don't push what I don't believe in or that has not meet our standard. That is the end of this disclaimer take it on our word.

I tend to push folks toward a setup that will be a solid backup once they upgrade to gearwhoredom. A kit they have no problem using as a spare or a loaner for a friend or as an introduction for someone who has always wanted to try it. I still have my first set of ice climbing tools for that very reason. Same with some of my older skis. Great for right now conditions( read as in thin and dirty).

First Rod: The Scott A4 9'5 WT 4 piece. We started using Scott rods for our own fishing here in Maine around 1987 from the Kennebec River Fly Shop owned by the late Dave Adams. We still have an STS and original G Series dream stick. We started using the first generation A2 series when we began guiding. The number one line up series of rods for our beginner and intermediate clients. We do everything with this rod. Indicator nymph, dry fly presentations, streamer chucking and the wet fly swing thing. If we need a little post trip decompression this is the rod that's packed as a spare and is usually in our hand. We have never felt there is anything we couldn't do with this stick. Kind of what your looking for in a first rod.

First Reel: I'll put it right out there. I am pretty much bullshit in the way reel manufacturers are constantly retooling or discontinuing reel series in today's market. It's amazing that a reel company like Ross will drop the Gunnison model only to bring it back in a limited number recently. Obviously that reel had a following. Mine is somewhere in the Kennebec Gorge attached to Sage RPL. It's yours if you find it. Our advice on reels today is simple. Find a company that produces the components that are the same whether it's the top of the line model or the entry level or at least in house.

 The one reel company I have loyalty to is Lamson/Waterworks for just that reason. We are still using the original Litepeed and Velocity reels to this day. These are client reels not personal kit gear. Hands down the smoothest drag and most durable reel we've ever used. Whatever current entry level Lamson you decide on you I'm sure you will be pleased with the quality and performance.

First Line: If I had my way I would make beginner fly lines 40' as apposed to the standard 80'. Why? A couple of reasons. You are going to ruin your first line anyway so why not just ruin a smaller amount. You'll feel pretty good about casting almost to the backing knot. You won't have a twenty yards at your feet, on the boat floor or in the bushes either.

You can't go wrong with the Rio Mainstream Trout DT or WF. Solid performer. Which line configuration? Try before you buy.

If you live in Maine and you're looking to buy, I'm sure the crew at Eldredge Bros. Fly Shop will help you with any questions and deliver some great service. As for a guide to help put the skills together I might know someone who could help.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lighten Up.

One comment we hear often is "You have everything"? When we are guiding , yeah we have everything. Rigs, flies, sink tips, extra rod/s, snacks, H2O, bug dope, lighter, extra everything and more. The Sherpa syndrome as we like to call it. When we go on our own or with friends the game changes. Coming from an alpinist background we go light. Very light.

We dump what we deem the unnecessary items. Just a few examples to ponder.

Why carry a pair of forceps, nippers and fly eye cleaner when it can be all done with a pair of Dr.Slick Mitten Clamps? Scissors, eye cleaner, forceps that fit your hand not in your cold fingers. Easy.

How many spools of tippet will you really need in the course of an evening? One, maybe two at most. We carry 2X, 4X and 5X. If it's a dry fly session. All nylon no fluoro.

Fly boxes. For the love of God leave at least two in the truck. Free yourself from the 'Fly Box Crutch'. If it's July and you're still carrying around Hendrickson patterns you might have a problem. How about just one filled with the Big Medicine selection?  We are fond of Umqua's Weekender or Day Tripper for this application.

A big fat leader kit VS two spare leaders.

Leatherman VS Abel Perfect Tool or a Gerber Dime.

Take a long hard look at reel weights. 4.9 oz for a 5wt reel? Throw that all day and you'll feel it at beer thirty.

The dreaded vest. If it's got a pocket you will fill it. Try a hip pack or better yet just throw the light kit in your wader pockets along with a FlyVines lanyard for a super light system.

One liquid floatant, one desiccant and one small piece of chamois cloth.

A Patagonia Houdini shell VS a full on rain coat for the chance of rain or windy conditions.

For extended distances we use a Black Diamond trekking pole instead of a dedicated wading staff. A pair of the Black Diamonds are still lighter than one staff.

Long days require either lots of casts, mileage and time. Picking a solid all around rod that can do it all and still come in on the light weight end can be pretty tough. One of our favorite series lately has been the Orvis Helios 2 lineup. Looking to go lighter? Grab a Patagonia Tenkara 10'6" Soft Hackle. Tenkara will simplify your fly fishing ten fold. You will become unencumbered by the gear collector problem many of us have/had.

Ditch the waders on hot days/evenings. Fast drying shorts, pants and long sleeve shirts are much more comfortable than even waist highs.

Our last suggestion are boots. Fit number one. Weight number two. Ever notice why some manufacturers don't list weight? Because they are heavier than my ice climbing boots! Don't forget to add water for true real life reading.

Try leaving some stuff out and see if you actually need it. You might be surprised on how light you can go.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Last Report.

A few things working for us right now and I suspect until we call it quits. Being thorough is key now. Pay attention to those slow seams, edges of deeper runs and the slow, skinny riffle water (search here with small dries). Clarity is excellent. Spot and scan before you cast. Filtered light in November. We love this light. Learn to see.

Nymph patterns of late are as follows; PTs 18-22, Copper Johns in red, lime and black 18, some hot pink steelhead fly I picked up in a sale bin for $1, size 12 (glad I bought a dozen), Chartreuse Caddis 16-18, Hare's Ear blend Czech nymph 14, Trout Crack 16.

Dropping down in the small bobber size due to clarity and spooky trouts. Doing more yarn than plastic for indicators in November. Break up your comfort zone.

Midges out and getting the eat. Buzzballs and Griffith's Gnats in appropriate sizes and dressed to ride high, dry with distance in the float. Long distance follows lately. Love the long look. 5X or 6X with no wind.

Streamers slow and low for the most part. Slow swings with a bit of jiggy action included. Large to the subtle. Loud heavy metal to sublime spey style. Keep the sharpener handy. Hard mouths in vogue this month. An array of tips from clear to type 6.

Puffy jackets, vests and pullovers on the rack. Down jacket in the kit if conditions warrant. Beanies, gloves, handwarmers, thermos, coffee, flask, jerky, dark chocolate, Hot Balls, Capeline and snow shovel round out every trip list in November.

Get out and knock off a few more trips before the curtain closes and enjoy the last of this season.

Another item of interest for you feather wranglers is the Tie and Lie. Mike Holt's shop may have closed but he still hosts a couple of tying events during the winter. These are well attended and informal affairs that are worth any tiers time.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Word Of Thanks.

"There are lucky boys and then there are lucky boys." Craig Vetter.

The 2014 season is nearly over. A possible half day wade next week. Who knows. This season has been at times stellar and other times a struggle. Working with Mother Nature is always a challenge. Working with managers of flow regime, state environmental agencies and a fishery department that is in desperate need of huge changes is getting harder and harder every season. What will next season bring? I'll let you know.

Thanks to everyone who came this season. From the multiday clients to the half day spey casting crew. We look forward to seeing you again next season and keeping in touch during the winter. A huge thanks to everyone who refers us to future clients. Word of mouth in this business crushes all social media, images, blog posts and web presence every time. Our reputation is everything in this trade and we are very proud of that fact. On a side note for those who low holed us (business wise) this season. Thank you very much. We'll be doing more new, creative, imaginative trips next season and crushing it. Thanks again for the added drive! XXOO.

We raise the pint glass to the following; Huck, Bob Dionne, Boz, Bob Duport, Mike Holt, Sean McCormick, The Evergreens Campground, Matt Bickford, all of the reps and companies that help us provide great gear, Toyota, canned beer, Carrabassett Coffee, The Orange Cat, CM Come Alongs, Farmington Tire, Bic Lighters, Selene Dumaine, Muck Boots, the guy who told one of our clients to "Shut up and do what your guide tells you to do", the client who shut up, clients who are willing to walk/hike/bushwhack/suffer for the jewels, moleskin, Ian Cameron, good whiskey, Soup For You, Cohibas, Jimmy Albert, The Mountain Village Inn, gate keys, The Towne Motel, all of the out of state guides, shops and outfitters that we work with throughout the season and most importantly my incredible family.

I'd like to also add an additional word of thanks to all of the pro photographers that have helped us above and beyond with their time and inspiration.

Recharging now for next season. How about you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Few Things

Guide a few seasons and you notice a few things. Guide for fifteen or more and you know a few things. You know when it's going to happen on a drift or strip. You know by the way an indicator twitches so subtle. You know when the wet swings through the sweet spot where the take will happen. Observe a seasons worth of casts, mends, drifts and sets, then you'll really see what's going on to make it happen.

These three things are key components in the bent rod crew:

The Cast. Accurate, quiet and limited. Streamer, nymph rig, dry or wet it makes no difference. Deliver the groceries like a sniper. You ever see a sniper fire eight rounds all over God's country to a target? Why throw nine false casts to yours?

Observation and Stealth. Read the water, rise, speed, structure and depth. Rely on experience or the WAG (Wild Ass Guess) system. Know when to move fast and cover ground. Just as important to know when to slow way down and focus on the subtle rise forms very few ever see.

Dialed In. Not just to the rhythm of the river. The wind. The light. The shadows. Gear should become an extension not a crutch. Great gear does what it is designed for and disappears while in use. Simple systems without the clutter and B.S. Techno geeks suck the soul out of any endeavour. Efficient line control and management is an underrated skill. These are the traits of the 'First cast/Best' cast crew.

More to come as the season winds down. Get on it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Nymphing.

Nymphing is red hot right now in many of the places we hang out in. Don't nymph? Don't read any further. Nothing to gain here, move along. If the subsurface game is of interest continue.

Long and short leash styles working well. Right angle always works. Always. Slider rig most days. Xmas tree rigged pre hatch. Take the time to rig before you get on the water to save time.

Pattern selection includes the following; CDC Prince, Copper Johns, P.T.s, Caddis Rockworm, Micro Worm, Disco Midge, SFS(some funky shit) nymphs we tied up, Dr Dre Stone and micro soft hackles.

1", 3/4", 1/2" 1/4" Thingamabobbers, Balck and white poly yarn and tube indicators all have their place. Find out why buy mixing it up. Bare naked also. Greased leader technique. Who the hell remembers that one!?!

Non toxic split shot combined with tungsten putty to help dial it in.

Our favorite line for nymphing is the Rio Nymph line. The best for the black art.

Two rules for nymphing.
Rule 1: Match the depth where the fish are holding.
Rule 2: Match the speed and drift of the food they feed on.

Match those two and you will see results.

Moving your position a couple of steps can make a huge difference also. Don't get locked in. Catch a few, move on and improve. Set on every movement of the indicator quickly. How quick? Bruce Freaking Lee quick!

Grab a date for a nymph clinic trip soon if you want in on some solid fishing. Space is limited at this point so get on it. SET!!

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I sit here tonight with a large whiskey contemplating this season. Our favorite time. Rest comes later. Along with some yoga, purging and some new paths for us for this winter along with next season. For now it's currently pretty stellar . Happy clients, fish and guides.
The Dry Game: Long leaders to 5X. Hot flies for the last week are Adams Parachute 18-22, Purple Haze 14, X Caddis 16-18 in tan, black, Power Ant 16, Orange Stimmy 12, Cricket 12 and a couple of mouse patterns thrown in to break the day up (more to follow on the rodent style).
Nymphing: RED HOT. Multiple style rigs in use. Hare's Ears 14-18, Pheasant Tails 16-22, Copper Johns 16-18. Tube Steaks 18, Disco Midge 18, Orange Czech patterns 10-12. Almost any pattern drifted at the right depth and speed. Not getting it done? CHANGE SOMETHING!!! Depth, speed or location. Don't pound water to death, catch a few and move on. Learn a few things on the way.

Wets: Double rigs, large singles. Light sink tips and 3X, spey styles on better this season than seasons past. Partridge and whatever 12-18. Softies behind the dry during the hatch for a code breaker.

Streamers: YES. Figure out color, style, retrieve and depth early for better results. Again pounding water with the same pattern and style endlessly without a result produces endless failure. I don't care if the water you are fishing is steeped in Carey Stevens history or not. Nostalgia for nostalgia's sake? Really? Yeah I'm a heretic. I don't wear a Maine guide patch either. Get the gas can and the stake ready. Evolve or die.
Streamer fishing for us is constantly evolving and intriguing. Much to short in the fall season to get stuck in habits and ruts.

A few dates left for this month if you are so inclined to get one more in before the slam.