Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Brotherhood Fiberglass Fly Rod

Rod built as a memento to our 20th annual family fly fishing trip.
  • 7'3" fiberglass blank 
  • 4 weight
  • 3 piece
  • Ray Lee custom real seat
  • Custom cork
  • Pearsall Gossamer Silk - Candy Apple Red
  • J Stockard guides
 


Brotherhood

Twenty years ago, the oldest brother coordinated a trip to the Missouri / Arkansas Ozarks for some family time and fly fishing.  I think at the time we didn't do much fly fishing.  We were probably drifting power bait and whatever else we could coax a trout into hitting.  This one time trip caught on and last week we celebrated our 20th year of our family fall fly fishing trip. 
 
Over the years we have migrated from a streamside condo, to tents, to RV's, etc.  We have also migrated from power bait to size 18 midges, streamers, dry flies, etc.  If you join us, we won't frown on your method of fishing, but before the end of the week you will probably own your own fly fishing outfit.  Just last week a family member joined us for the first time and left with a complete outfit.  Let's just say, we had extras!
Our oldest brother who started this is no longer with us, but each year we remember him and celebrate his life.  He was a great man, a hoot on the stream, and always had a grin on his face when the fly rod was bent.  You would like him and quickly become a friend.
We look forward to the trip.  We don't plan much, but simply show up and everything always falls into place. We don't fish that hard, but instead make sure we take time to enjoy each others company and fireside chats.  No, you don't get any details of the fireside chats!
We have told the same stories countless times and continue to laugh like its the first time.  Most people that join us for the first time shake their head and wonder about most of the tales.  I can't blame them.    With my 7 brothers growing up, we had plenty of opportunities.
We see each other throughout the year, but this trip is our bond.  When we meet throughout the year, we usually talk in anticipation of the next trip.  We are lucky to have this closeness and take it for granted.  I do believe we have a special family and not all families experience the brotherhood that we do.  Let's just say if somebody needs something, we know who is there to help us. 
As I write this article, I really don't have a ton of words.  I can't really explain what we experience or give you all the details.  I do wish everyone could experience what we do and have the family that I belong to.  If you do, that's awesome.   If you don't, join us sometime.  Needless to say, I am proud of my family.
This year, I took the opportunity to create a 20th year memento that someone would take home.  This custom fly rod titled 'Brotherhood' was given away on Thursday of our trip.  This 7'3" 4 weight fiberglass rod is a small token of my appreciation for my brothers.  They are all great men and encompass the meaning of 'Brotherhood'.
 

 
 
Miscellaneous photos from the week:
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

20th Year - Sausage Bean Chowder

I am in final preparation to head out early tomorrow for a full week of camping and fly fishing with my brothers.  In this, our 20th year, we have developed some yearly rituals.  Most of them involve food and one of the meals is a dish of 'Sausage Bean Chowder'.  Thought I would share the recipe after preparing a triple recipe for one of our evening meals.

This is a great meal on a camp trip, a fall day, Sunday afternoon football,  or about anytime.  It's a hearty meal with a great taste.  Give it a try ... you won't be disappointed.
 
  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 lb. can tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 med onion - diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1 t garlic salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 3 medium potatoes - diced
  • 1 green pepper - diced
Brown sausage and onion.  Add rest of ingredients. Cover and simmer for one hour.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Alway's A Good Day

I learned a long time ago to not pay too much attention to the temperature, wind, water conditions, clouds, etc., when deciding whether to go fishing. I have had numerous days when I was glad I did not use all the reasons that it would not be worth my time to hit the river.  I think too many people wait for the perfect day only to be disappointed when they finally get on the river.  They most likely missed many good days waiting for the right condition. 
I recently had one of those days when there were many reasons that I should not waste my time hitting the river.  It has been a dry late winter and spring in some areas of the Ozarks and my favorite stream is very low right now. Low water means very spooky and elusive fish.  Getting to some of the spots means walking through some very weedy areas full of ticks and snakes.    Why waste my time?  I knew this would be a tough day but I also had a chance to go wet a line and enjoy the sun on my back.  I have learned that is good enough reason for me.  Let's fish!
As I hit the river on this great spring Ozark day, the water was even lower than I thought and very clear.  Very nice for a picture but very tough for fishing. 
 
I took my time and approached each hole very slow knowing that I would probably get only one shot.  Each hole proved my theory was right as conditions were very tough.   My mind wandered to the thought that this may be a fishless day.  It happens.
As the temperature warmed and the sun broke through the tree tops, I started noticing a few bugs coming off. Not just one variety but there were 2 or 3 different hatches in early stages with the warming weather. One of the bugs appeared to be a small tan caddis.  This was the most prevalent  but was very small.  The other two I recognized as a black caddis and a yellow sulphur mayfly.   These are both common on this stream in the spring.  The black caddis appeared about normal but the sulphur was much larger than normal. 
 
As I moved around and the air warmed with the sun, the bugs got thicker.  I really enjoyed watching the large sulphur's coming off.  With their forked tail, they are awesome to watch as they move slowly about the stream.  About the time I was gazing around at the hatch, I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  The hatch was getting strong enough that some trout had began focusing on the hatch in the tailouts.  I don't need many swirls on top to get me to tie on a dry fly.  These trout are not too picky so I tied on a larger Adams.  I had black caddis flies but the sulphur's were thick and my thought was the fish were focusing on them.  The Adams was the closest thing I had...or should I say the largest dry I had in this fly box.   My first cast to the rising trout proved how picky these fish are as a nice rainbow slammed the dry.  As I admired the catch, I heard another rise...and another.   On my 2nd cast, another trout aggressively attacked my dry only to come off on the hook set.  
 
 Long story short, this went on for the rest of the day.  I fished dries at every tailout and actually went back to some of the water I fished early in the day prior to the hatch starting.  None of the fish were overly large but were all very aggressive and a blast to catch on a dry fly. 
What a great day in the Ozarks.
 
You just never know when a day with less than ideal conditions will turn into a day that you were glad you didn't stay home.  Get out and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Furled Leaders from Arizona Wanderings

I have used furled leaders for many years.  Except in a few unique situations, I use them nearly exclusively.  This includes on all of our local Ozark waters and the places that I have traveled for fly fishing in the last decade (Colorado, Alaska, Belize, Gulf of Mexico, etc).  My point here is that the furled leader is extremely versatile for me and can be used for nearly every situation. 
I have experimented with many leaders over the years made from monofilament and fluorocarbon.  I have found that certain material works better in a certain situation but I don't tend to over analyze and have found that either of these materials are very similar.  Monofilament tends to float a little better but it also has a tendency to be a bit larger if you are worried about leader shy fish. 
I know a lot of guys make leaders from UNI thread but this had really never appealed to me. No specific reason, I was simply happy with my leaders.  Recently, I acquired a couple of hand made UNI thread furled leaders from Ben Smith at Arizona Wanderings.  I don't know Ben but after trying these leaders, I felt it worthwhile to give feedback on a good product. 

 
My initial impression of these leaders was positive.  First, Ben does a great job in the process of these leaders.  The quality of the manufacturing of these leaders is obvious with a nice taper, shorb loop, tippet ring, professional packaging, and instructions.  They were also very flexible and supple to handle.  I was impressed but the real test would be on the water.
Recently, I was able to give the leaders a few days testing on the water in various conditions and will give you my honest opinion. 

Pros:
  • Soft, supple, yet they take charge when casting.  They will lay out a fly as soft as any leader I have used.  They cast better than the mono and fluorocarbon leaders I have used and I have tried many.
  • Quality manufacturing and packaging.
  • Price - a $10 leader should last months
  • Custom made to your satisfaction in length and color
  • Shorb loob for attaching to fly line.
  • Tippet ring for quick change of tippet
  • I used for dries, nymphs, and small streamers.  The leader is versatile.
Cons:
  • Not really an issue but you need to grease the leaders.  Ben tells you this so it is not a new discovery.  The UNI thread absorbs water.  The good news, when you grease them, they float very high.
  • Durability - Time will tell but I used for three full days and the leader looks brand new.  I expect them to last many, many, trips.
Overall benefits of using a furled leader:
  • No line memory
  • Turn over and presentation
  • Minimal wind knots
  • Durability
  •  One leader covers multiple fishing situations
Take a look at Ben's site.  He has other products, does great gear reviews, interesting blog entries, photos, etc.   I follow him via all these networks and find the Arizona diversity from our Ozarks very intriguing.  
 
Instagram - azwanderings
Twitter - AZWanderings
 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reacquainted

Since the end of October I have done one thing and that is work.  I am thankful for my job and sometimes we have to do what is needed.  But zero day's off for 60 days, including weekends was a little much.  I don't mind the work so much but it takes away my time to do what I enjoy.  During this time, I didn't fish, tie flies, wrap a rod..nothing.  Heck I barely saw my wife.  Well today I got an opportunity to get reacquainted.  No, not with my wife!  I got reacquainted with one of our intimate Ozark streams.
  
This January day happened to be a day that saw the temperatures in the upper 60's.  This was a bonus but it did not matter as I was going to hit the water regardless.
With working as much as I had, my mind has been very occupied with the work environment.  After pulling on the waders and beginning the walk in, I started to hear flowing water.  I then realized how much I missed this sound and my mind and body began to relax and get back to a normal state.  There are few problems that can't be solved by visiting beautiful places with flowing water. 
I fished very slow today and took my time fishing each stretch of water.  I probably overfished a few places knowing that I would not hook anymore fish but I was in no hurry and the water flowing around my legs was the exact therapy that I needed.
 
The recent snow and rain had this Ozark stream in perfect shape today.  The rainbows were holding in the fast water and every run that pushed some fast water into an undercut, produced a fish or two.  Most were not large, but feisty as always.  A few BWO's were coming off but it was not the right type of day to create a hatch large enough to get the fish focused on them.  I nymphed most of the day but I did throw a few BWO's in order to try out a new furled leader from Ben at Arizona Wanderings. I will do a review later this week on these leaders.  
This spring like day in the middle of winter was a gift.  I never saw another sole and while sitting on a log eating a great lunch of peanut butter crackers, I was serenaded by a small covey of quail.  Here in Missouri, this is a rare sound. 
Did we get reacquainted?  Oh yeah.  She is still unforgiving on an errant back cast, the rainbows are still as spooky as ever and never give you a second chance, the same water I have fished countless times is still teaching me new things, and this Ozark stream is as great a treasure as ever.   
I am looking forward to 2014.  I need to get 14 months fishing in the next 12 months to make up for lost time doing something that means so much to me.  
Lets have a great 2014!       
    
 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Weather Reading

Lots of weather across the country today.  If you are stuck indoors, here are a couple of good Ezines to pass some of the time. 
 

http://montanaflyfishingmagazine.com/

This is Fly

http://www.thisisfly.com/