Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The little things

The flats are littered with blue wings, their tiny wings etching the surface of the glassy water.  The waves come off in such strategic zones that if you are not in the right place at the right time, you'll never even know they're even around.  The fish know though, all of the time.  The first few days are always the best, and as the cold creeps in the bugs dissipate, signaling the finale of fall.  Those early days though, when the fish are dumb and the flies big, make for some of the best to be had all year.  With everything that can be done with a fly rod these days, and a constant barrage of exotic locales daily, I still think a 5wt, a # 12 parachute and rising fish is the best.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bozeman Premier of Wild Reverence

Montana folks, next Tuesday, the 16th, make sure to show up to the Montana premier of Wild Reverence, an incredible film by Shane Anderson about the plight of wild steelhead.  I'm particularly excited about this because I helped support this project when it was in the kickstarter phase.  Get your tickets here and hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Three Guides Fishing

Mountain/River pictures are like the spey casting shot of the trout world.  It means you didn't catch shit.
Several years ago (actually many years now) I came to the painful realization that anytime I was going to fish with two of my guide friends, fishing was likely going to really suck.  Through no fault of our own, and even under best guide behavior of conceding float choices, beer selections and bank locations, odds are not in our favor.    Three weeks ago (back when it was still sumer) I reaffirmed this hex by traveling to the Henry's Fork with two of my closest friends. With grand intentions of floating through the ranch and getting schooled by large trout on long leaders and tiny flies, schooled is exactly what we got.  Putting fish down would have been an expected and acceptable outcome, but after recent, first-hand reports of good fishing, and nary a trout looking towards the surface for the bugs that didn't materialize, our concept of schooled was upgraded.  A quick change of plans sent us up to the water that chubby-chucking guides from Montana can even catch fish out of, and resistant to throw a bobber we found a few.  Fortunately having few interruptions like landing fish and taking pictures, three guides have the opportunity to reconnect in the middle of the summer doldrums season, which is many times better than any trout on 14' of 12x and a perfect counterpart to the guides day off stink.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Technique Tuesday: Streamer Fishing From a Drift Boat

In what I hoped to be a regular segment that has turned into a semi-annual piece I'll pick up where I left off last spring: Technique Tuesday!  It's fall, which out here means there's a bunch of dip shits ready to rip browns off their reeds, and those of us with a conscience are going to be going streamer fishing.  I am still a firm believer that if you really want the best streamer fishing possible you show up to MT in the spring, but this time of year it's a hell of a lot better than staring at a bobber.  Here's some intel into what I've always found to work.

1.  Heavy Fly, Light Line:  We all know that the KG sinking line floating fly technique works, but where it really works is Galloups home river that is big and fast and demands a sink tip.  For a lot of the water around here that style simply doesn't get down quick enough and then stays down too long once you get it there.  I always prefer a long leader (9'-10') on a floating line and a heavy fly, such as a Sculpzilla or a home-brew with lead eyes and lead wraps.  This style lets you sink into small deep buckets instantly, as well as impart a jigging motion that is nearly impossible to replicate with a sinking line.  The most effective local streamer I know of has a #7 split shot incorporated into the head.  This is not an accident!

2.  Fish Smaller Flies:  Sure, it's fun tying and fishing gigantic streamers that take a 9wt to throw, but when you're stripping that dead chicken you are weeding out all of the normal sized fish, and limiting yourself to the huge one that is so rare.  "That's the point" you say, and I get that, but there is a streamer size pendulum, and I believe that you can fish a streamer that is small enough that you'll catch a lot of fish in the "nice" range (12"-18") as well as pull the two-footer out of his lumber abode.  To me 3"-5"is the range where you can cover all fish and still show enough profile to get RHB.

3. Throw it Out the Back of the Boat:  Does throwing down and across, and ripping it as fast you can work, of course.  Does it put as many fish as humanly possible into your net?  I don't think so.  When you think about a small fish getting pushed out into the current, even in a small river, he is swimming head first down stream, getting pushed by the flow.  By throwing out the back of the boat, and even mending down to put a belly in your line, you are creating a much more realistic presentation, and typically get better results.  Having more tension on your line also leads to more hook-ups rather than foul balls, which is a good thing.

Hope these tips help this fall as the nights get cold and the fish get snappy, and remember, stay off the clean gravel!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fall with Friends

It is unanimously agreed upon out west that September is the greatest month of the year.  One could easily write a post every day of the month and never run out of material for what makes this time of year special.   Our summer in SWMT had just gotten rolling when September decided to come a few weeks early.  This cold front accounted for the 2nd day that I have worn my waders in August in the last 6 years, as well as the 3 biggest trout that I have caught this summer, all within 2 days.  It's just something about that quick change that makes them snappy.  And its nearly the same week every year.  The only thing that made it even better is I got them with two of my favorite groups of friends that come out every summer.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shooting film

For the last several years anything "heritage" has become unbelievably popular and therefore has made its way to into the fishing world and most obviously it comes through in the current trends of fishing photography.   It would be difficult to not have seen crops of digital photos processed to look like film.  To get this effect, you either use VSCO filters or "crush the blacks" on your own.  I've had mixed feelings on this. I love it, I hate it, I love to hate it.

Regardless this trend inspired me to shoot on films.  I picked up two rolls of Porta 400 and a role of Fuji something or other.  It took me nearly an entire year to shoot the first role of Portra, which actually ended up being pretty interesting.  I enjoyed having 34 photos documenting trips from the year.  Because of the cost of the film and limited number of exposures I only took a handful of shots on each outing. Leaving me with a small curated library of past experiences (as opposed to several thousand crummy digital images hiding the few keepers.)

All photos were shot with a rebel gII, 50mm F1.4, Portra 400 . . .

Swing on the Salmon

 Waiting on the Salmon

It got colder

 Actual vignette.

 Silver fox in Grand Teton National Park

Swollen creek in Grand Teton National Park
Admiring the Grand Teton

Here is my take away.  My 40D has horrible dynamic range compared to film.  Film is expensive to use these days, roll of Portra was about $10 developing and scanning was another $20.  Portability was great, smaller and lighter camera body and the 50mm lens is a lot more useful when there is no crop factor.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Redington Dually Switch

I didn't catch this fish with the Dually, but that is not the rods fault.

Earlier this spring I got the opportunity to fish the Redington Dually Switch Rod in a 5 wt 11'.  I'll be honest for the longest time I thought switch rods were stupid, and to some extent I still do.  This rod is certainly an exception to that.  Where switch rods don't make sense to me is nymphing from a boat or steelhead fishing when you should be using a spey rod.  The Dually in a 5 however is the perfect combination of light weight and feel that combine to make a super fun two handed trout crusher.

Performance:  The rod is certainly a little softer than the other Redington rods I have fished in the past, which all seem to error on being pretty quick.  The Dually has an action that you can definitely feel load into your hands and tells you when it's time to go forward.  When paired with a RIO Switch Chucker in a 325 it sailed.  I ran several different weights of 10' poly leaders and flies up to a 2 and they all zipped out their nicely.  At a 5 it could handle any trout you could ever hook out here in Montana and some smaller steelhead.

Looks:  Those of you know me know that I have an affinity for bright blue, and so the bright blue writing on the maroon blank was a hit for me.  This rod looks like what you would expect for the price point, but the blue writing was definitely a bonus.  Oh and it has alignment dots, like every rod ever should.

Why should I get one?

Because it is a very affordable price point to enter in the two handed world which will then lead you to ruin your life chasing fish all over the place, likely becoming addicted to caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, as well as getting divorced, losing your job and living under the 101 bridge on the Hoh with an obvious new nickname like "The Troll".  Or it will just be another fun tool to add to the arsenal, and at the price of $249.95 an easily justifiable new purchase.  Trout spey fishing is something I should do more of, and this rod is a great one to go swing up the guys that don't make it out to the ocean.

Obligatory nitpicking of a couple random things on an otherwise great rod:

Ummm, I don't like the reelseat that much?  Is that a reason to not buy this rod, of course not, but you have to bitch about something in a review, right?  Go check out the Dually, you'll be glad you did.