Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Best Of Last Season.

Yeah, it's been awhile. Daytime highs less than twenty do not make us think about fishing. That is changing after a few fly fishing shows, thirty degree sunny days, red kick wax, Little Black Stoneflies and the appearance of mud. As this season approaches gear is replaced, inventoried and inspected. Going through last seasons gear there were a few standouts.

The Orvis Superfine Glass 7'9" 4wt. From small brookies to 18" rainbows to 16" Landlocks we put this rod through the test for six months. Great dry fly rod but also fished medium nymph rigs.

Not a gimmick. The Patagonia Tenkara 10'6" rod will make you rethink this whole gear dependent sport. Fun and effective.

Another Patagonia highlight is the Nano Puff Vest. Living in it since October. Lightweight, packable, compresses to citrus size. Add to your sleep system for added warmth, belay layer, pillow, sling padding and impromptu dog bed.

Goathead studs got our nod after the first batch we used were not performing to our standard. Goathead took the high road and sent us another style and they are much better for the angler. 1/2" for the wader and 3/8" for the trail runner.

Cold cocktails are something we take seriously. The Yeti 20oz. Tumbler fills our Margarita, Bloody or G&T requirements very well. Well tested. Trust us.

Size 22's, 5x and reading a topo map all suck if you can't see. Using CliC glasses solves the cheater glasses problem. Convenient and high quality.

Beer of the year. Simple. Tumbledown Brewing. Worth the trip for sure. Support your or our local brewer!

There are other items that deserve mention also. GoPro, GU products, GSI espresso maker, MSR Pocket Rocket, Insta Set Indicators, Subaru Outbacks, Yakima Rocket boxes, FlyVine lanyards and Gerber tools.

All the above have at least 45 days of use. The absolute minimum for a real world test. Good gear costs more. Buy once and get out there this season.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Czech vs U.S.

Not hockey. Nymphing techniques. We do a large amount of nymphing throughout the season and with that comes different techniques for a variety of waters we fish. The two foundation techniques we use are either Czech style or indicator style. Most folks have an idea about indicator styles. The confusion starts when the Czech style( Czech style nymphing is really just tight line indicator less nymphing. The only indicator is a sighter piece of bright mono attached to the line)  is researched. Typical of the fly fishing Illuminati the styles range from French, Spanish, Polish, Left Handed Macedonian and Small Italian Moustache.

I'll try to help by keeping it simple as to when and where to use each system.

Pocket Water: Hands down Czech rig. Great control and feel. Faster depth rate. Better hook ups due to less line handling. Our favorite.

Endless Riffle: Indicator rig. Upriver, in front and below you. Better coverage and more productive than the stand and chuck Czech rig.

Ultra Clear/Pressured water: Czech rig. Silent and swift. Quick sink on skinny tippet. No shadow or wake do to being bobberless.

Windy Conditions: Indy all the way. Stiffer rig equals easier turnover.

Slow, Deep Water: Where many of our Brookies tend to hang out. Indy again due to the ability to cover a larger target area and dial in depth as well as speed.

Short Leash/ Shallow Water: Mini indicator to again dial in depth and fish the rig for longer drifts.

Long Sections of Pocket Water: The kind most anglers blow off. Knee deep and mile long. Czech rig. Changing location and casts keep the adjustment to a minimum.

Rigging Time: Both about equal. Once dialed the Czech rig can be manipulated with a few specialty casts. This is where a Tenkara (10'+) rod rocks.

Specialty Rod: Yeah you can get a Euro Nymph rod, Indicator rod or Tenkara for this type of fishing. You can also get by just fine with a standard 9' 5wt. I really do like my nymph rods for just nymphing though. Spend over forty days nymphing at the beginning of the season and you'll want a rod for the dark side also.
For just Czech style I like a 9'+ 4wt. One that is lightweight. I'm 6' 2", add a 10' rod in my hand and I'm a tower crane that can high stick and lead a rig easier than most.
I would suggest being very particular about line type. Specific nymph tapers add to the system. Trust us they make a huge difference.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion on a simple technique.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Seasons Worth. Part Two.

The rest of the season is as follows;

 Early a.m. wade trips, early a.m. small stream trips, spey casting clinics. A great time for a spey clinic to get ready for the fall season. All half day trips due to warmer air and water temps. Summer conditions dictate whether we go or not. Too hot. We don't fish for salmonids.

 It is the one time we do small mouth bass trips. Either floating or wading. Be warned this is a blood fest trip. We target and kill every small mouth we catch. Why? Illegally introduced years ago by an individual/s with low morale standards who probably didn't have the skill to guide for trout and salmon. We know it's a small dent in the big picture but it does make us feel good. Sqeamish anglers and bass lovers need not book.


Small stream trips in full swing. Wild natives rule this month. Streamers, mice patterns, Bombers, Slate Drakes and soft hackles at the front. These fill fast so act fast.

Full and half day wades. Midday and evening hatches. Attractor patterns. Streamer and micro nymph sessions.

Float trips during the last week. Staying into the glooming for the last evening hatches.

October: Our Favorite!!!

 Full day wades and floats. Lots of streamer work. The swing, strip and jig technique. Love the streamer, huge or subtle. Nymphing attractor patterns always fun. Waking junk and BWOs.

A few small hike in ponds for a change of pace and view.

Two handed trips during this month are fairly common. Great way to close out the season.

November: The Curtain Closes.

The first two weeks are fairly solid. Nymphing, slow swinging and the last of the Baetis. Very, very quiet on the water at this time of year. Gentleman's hours. Let the deer/duck hunters see dawn.

Pretty full season here in Maine for the creative think out of the box guide/angler. Which month is best? This morning it was 16 below. Pack your leavin trunk.

Another Tie and Lie this weekend for those hackle wrappers.

CFR Fish Tales and Cocktails event this weekend at Sugarloaf also.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Seasons Worth Part One.

The booking season has arrived! Phone calls, emails and message systems happening at a nice steady pace. Conversations about hatches, gear, availability, lunch, lodging, your usual client question stuff. Which got us thinking about a month to month run down. The list below is subject to whims of Mother Nature, Power Companies flow regime and acts of God.

April: "The cruelest month". Your best options for April are as follows.

 Nymph clinic. Yes the dark side. Learn the rigs and techniques. Become the 10% angler. Around the third week in April the bite changes dramatically on the nymph. Two to three rigs pre rigged per day. Yeah we dig nymphing and really like passing the knowledge on to clients. For $300 you will be far ahead of the learning curve.

Spey casting clinic. Yeah the two handed thing. Laid back intro to the overly confusing world of spey. Rods, lines, instruction, snacks and beverages included. We teach the skills/casts to catch fish. Period. Kind of the whole idea behind the gear actually. After last seasons record number of spey trips and clinics we a looking forward to increasing it again this year. Pretty fun way to start the season. $100 per spey clinic for one or two clients.

Half day wade trips. Late April can produce some early season smelt and midge occurrences. Best to be on the 'Hot Line" crew. It's pretty simple. You drop everything you're doing and show up the next day when we call. This works for some folks surprisingly and we love the start of the surface game.

All this sounds pretty good. Then again we can have more snow. Huge ice outs, floods and cold temps also. We have also experienced excellent nymphing and solid midge hatches.

May: "Where have you been".

Nymph and spey clinics continue. Full day and a few half day wade trips fill most of this month. The later part of the month will see float trips happening on a almost daily basis. Hatches on average start around Memorial Day weekend. This holiday is also known as the opening ceremonies for the 'Red Neck Olympics'. We tend to work a few limited waters during that weekend.

The small stream scene really pops in the middle of May. We spend a large amount of time on these under looked waters throughout the season. Why? Secluded areas, wild fish, under fished and numerous. Bring the your favorite 3 or 4 wt.

June: It's on like Donkey Kong!

The busiest month for us. We are doing it all (wade, small stream and float trips) with a few side line specialty trips thrown in to avoid burn out and allow for professional development (fun stuff). All day hikes to hard to reach ponds, private access ponds and thin blue lines, Tenkara trips, Spey trips and a few back country hike and wade trips, streamer clinics. Not your average guide gig by far. Just the way we like it. Changing it every season like a boss! 

A quick honest note. Drift boat/float trips are the last place for the beginning fly caster on the waters we float on. Wade trips are a better choice UNLESS YOU HAVE A SOLID CAST OF AT LEAST 35 FEET. Would you rather spend the money and time on a more successfull wade trip or a frustrating moving casting lesson?

July: Summer sessions.

Full day wades on a few waters that most folks think are past the peak. Dry fly for most of the day. Large attractors, mice patterns, spinner falls. Evening happy hour floats. Small stream trips going strong. Early morning streamer sessions. Wet wading as an added bonus. One of our best months for caddis evening events. Along with the Golden Stones! Size 8-10!! FUN! Busy time for us with bookings and private trips so plan early and get on the calender.

Stay tuned for the rest of the season.

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.