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/





Sunday, November 24, 2013

Book Review - 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish

I recently got my hands on a  copy of  the newly published book by Stonefly Press, 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish. 
 
As far as I know, this is the first book to look at the very best tailwater fisheries across the US and Canada. The authors are Terry and Wendy Gunn, fly fishing icons, and owner/operators of Lees Ferry Anglers on the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam.
Of course I immediately opened the book to the tailwaters here in the Ozarks.  I have fished these tailwaters extensively for many years and would be able to quickly tell if the book was going to add value to others interested in fishing this area. 
I immediately noticed references to familiar names associated with our local tailwaters. Not only familiar names but they narrowed it down to the few individuals that I would consider local experts and people whose opinion I respect.  This was a good start and obvious they had done their homework on where to get quality input for each tailwater.
I then started reading the sections on the local Ozark tailwaters in depth.  Each and every section was very well written and better yet, they are spot on with the most important information of local hatches and fly recommendations.  The photos are awesome and the detailed maps that go with each tailwater are extremely helpful.  Anytime you visit a new region, I would consider a map, hatches and flies to be the 3 most important factors to get your trip started.  In addition, I believe I learned a couple of things about my local tailwaters. 
For fly fisherman not from the Ozarks, there is everything in the specific tailwater section that you would need to plan your trip.  Included are references to local guides, restaurants, and lodging.  
After reading the local tailwater chapters, I then began exploring the remainder of the book. The book is divided by region and you can easily find information about an area that you may be planning to visit.  Initially I scanned a few regions but then found myself reading each section in depth.  Most of these I may never visit, but there are a few of these at the top of my list.  As I continue reading, I am finding my list growing of places I need to visit.  If I get the chance to plan a trip to these areas, I would consider this book the foundation for planning my trip.  The key parts of any trip are included in these sections and based on the quality and accuracy of the tailwaters I am familiar with, I will definitely use this book to plan any trip.  
I had a gentleman from Minnesota contact me yesterday about visiting the Ozark region to fly fish.  I simple sent him the link for this book.  For his first trip to the Ozarks, I can't do any better than the information in this book.  
Great job Robert Clouse, Terry and Wendy Gunn, and Stonefly Press! Thank you.   
For anyone interested in purchasing a copy or dropping a hint of a great book for Christmas, visit  Stonefly Press to purchase a copy of the 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish.  
After writing this review, I noticed a couple other bloggers had also provided reviews of this book.  I think you will find a consistent theme that everyone is very pleased with the quality of this book.



50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish from Kitchen Sink Studios ®, INC. on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flycraft Boat Review

I have wanted a boat for a long time and just recently purchased one.  I have researched a lot of boats and asked many of you a lot of questions.  I never pulled the trigger on a purchase because each boat had one thing that would not fit my needs on the multitude of rivers that I fish.  The diversity of rivers and water here in the Ozarks may require multiple boats to satisfy every need and quite frankly I needed to let go of a few 'needs' if I was going to only purchase one boat. 
Recently, I ran across a boat that was posted on Instagram by a well-known flyshop in Utah.  It immediately caught my attention and I had another boat to research. 
After talking to the flyshop and getting positive reviews, I reached out to the owner of the company, Ben Scribner.  Flycraft is a relative new company but I think Ben has done a good job with the production of this boat. 
Ben was great to work with.  He was very upfront with what this boat is and discussed his research, the manufacturing, key features, etc.   He did not hold any details back and went above and beyond to make sure I had all the input that I needed.  He even gave me 6 references to call.  I did call them and they to were very open with me.  Bottom line, after discussing with Ben, the flyshop, and references, my boat was on it's way to the Ozarks from Utah. 
The boat arrived at my front door well packed in 4 boxes.  Before I got home on the day it was delivered, Ben called me to ensure it arrived safe with no issues.  He gave me a few assembly instructions but the assembly was very simple and everything went together smooth.   In about 45 minutes, I had it fully assembled.  Inflating is very quick and takes minimal energy.  I see no reason I would ever need anything more than the manual pump that comes with it. My wife never complained after airing up all 5 chambers! 
 
The boat comes fully equipped and has everything you need except an anchor.  It immediately became apparent that I had made a good purchase.  The boat is fully functional, quality, and simple.  I don't like a ton of gadgets.  Just make it last and make it work...for a long time.   I believe this boat will do that. 
 
Boat Specifications​ (these are also on the Flycraft website)
  • 0.9 mm 1100 denier polyester interwoven Max supported pvc
  • High pressure drop stitched floor.  Like standing on a piece of floating concrete.
  • Dry weight 93 lbs
  • Breaks down easily for storage and transportation
  • Rated class 2 water
  • glued seams
  • 2 year Flycraft CARE with optional 5 year (add $300)
  • Internal anchor system
  • Collaborative design by Aliens and Quadra Force
  • 5 Lefield C 7 valves (5 air chambers)
  • ROCKGOD Triple Layer wearpoint protection
  • Cateract composite 2 piece mini MAG oars
 
So, lets get to how it performs on the water.  I took the boat through all the different tests to see how it would perform. I rowed it upstream and down, fast water, slow water, tight conditions, etc.  This boat is super responsive to a single oar stroke.  It sits literally on top of the water and therefore is very easy to control.  I fished it sitting down and standing up.  This was something I was curious about as the floor is an inflatable cavity.  I am not sure how but it feels like a solid floor to me.  No issues. 
The seats are comfortable and the rack on the back is great for whatever you feel like carrying and I can't wait until spring to load it with a tent and gear for some overnighters. 
 
I got in and out of the boat from shallow water and waist deep water.  No issue and the buoyancy makes it super easy to get in the boat. 
This boat is narrow and made for some small water if needed but you can put this on our bigger tailwaters also.   The boat will float in virtually no water.  We had two people in the boat with minimal gear and I kept waiting to hear it scrape gravel.  You really had to hit the bank before you would touch gravel.  Three inches of water was no issue.
This is going to fit my needs perfect.  It will handle our tailwaters, will be perfect on NFOW, and our smallmouth streams just got more accessible. 
The only thing that I could find was that this boat will require good communication if you are going to stand.  A solid oar stroke will put you in the river.  No, this did not happen to me today.  But it will!  This is not an issue with the boat....it is simply very responsive.
I hauled it on my SUV and this worked fine (95 lbs) and a couple of cam straps is all you need.  It never budged at 70 mph.  A trailer would be much easier or I could even deflate the boat and put it in the back. 
 
Did I catch more fish with this boat?  Not on this trip, but I will.  It will get me places you can never wade to. 
Overall, I am super excited about this purchase. 

The boat also comes with additional benefits that were not marketed.  Ben should put these in his list of specifications. 
The boat doubles as a couch.
 
And also as a seat for shore lunch (with your wading boots off).

And if you are wondering, it does not get heavier after you inflate it with air!   This is the question that I got from the lady in the photo's above after we loaded it on top of our SUV the 2nd time.
If you want more information, drop me a comment or email or go to the Flycraft website

Monday, October 7, 2013

Government Shutdown Delays 19 Year Tradition

 
As you can tell from my blog and updates, I fish a lot.  Some probably think I fish too much, but everyone has an opinion.  My fishing provides me many things throughout the year, but one thing that I look forward to the most is October. 
In October, I get to spend a week with brothers, nephews, uncles, in-laws, out-laws, etc on our annual fly fishing trip in the Ozarks.  This October would have been the 19th year of this tradition.  The current government shutdown has cancelled this year's tradition as our usual haunts are off limits at this time. 
Could we have camped and carried on this tradition? Yes, if we pushed it we could have camped somewhere.  But, it is the principal of it and I am adamant that when we do have our 19th trip, it will be where we want to go and what we enjoy.  We cancelled it not only because we are hard headed, but in support of the federal workers that are currently unemployed. 
 
I have enough tact to understand the overall impact of this shutdown and too realize that our camping trip is most likely not in the top 10 of overall impacts.  Probably in the top 20, but overall this is ridiculous to let national parks be affected by this shutdown.  Our national government has declined to a laughing matter.  Congress and Senate have lowered themselves to a bunch of immature individuals that have no priorities but their own political goals.  I don't even know what the government shutdown is and I refuse to read anything that would explain it to me.  The real shutdown should occur in Washington with a few key individuals and leave everyone else alone.  Especially those 800,000 individuals who live paycheck to paycheck.  This includes Washington police, homeland security, and the individuals keeping the trout alive at our federal hatcheries. 
If the current government is going to act like immature individuals, we should treat them that way.  This is the recommendations based on the way many of us were raised and I feel government should be punished in the same manner:
  • Any individual acting like a 4 year old will not get allowance for the week
  • All members of government will be paddled with a homemade switch or paddle when acting up in session, talking out of turn, etc
  • All members of government will turn in a sheet of paper with the words ' I will use common sense' printed 1000 times.
  • The worst offenders will wear a dunce hat in the corner for 1 hour. We are going to need a lot of corners. 
And finally, once this is over, I will invite key members of government to our camp site.  There they will explain to us the process of government shutdown, the necessity to unemploy 800,000 hard working Americans, and give us one good reason why we can't go camping on public land, wade in public waters, hear family stories for the 20th time, eat like kings, bond with my brothers, build the absolute biggest campfire you have ever seen and burn things in it that you could not imagine.   I want one good reason.