Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Technique Tuesdays: My (Current) Favorite Tying Tool

Random steelhead picture.  The fly this fish ate was tied using my favorite tying tool.

In the hopes that forming a new regular segment will motivate me to blog a little more consistently I am starting "Technique Tuesday's".  A new technique shared every week, ranging from tying to rowing to fishing and possibly even beer drinking and winter surviving (can it be April yet?).  I am very fortunate to have spent too much a lot of time over the past 15 years doing all things fly fishing, and spend a ton of time with other guides and great fisherman who have all sort of good tips that help make you (and me) a better angler.

The first in this series of posts is a highlight of what is currently my favorite tying tool, a cat hair brush. Available for under 5$ at your local pet store, the cat hair brush is an amazing tool for evening out fibers on steelhead flies and streamers that use any long, wavy material such as ice dubbing, artic fox, angle hair, etc.  Any of my buddies know that one of my mainstays for tying is flashy materials.  After getting some huge confidence in the prom dress I have been tweaking with all sorts of different flashy things.  Along with flash, I really like tying dubbing loops, weather it's with flash, bunny, fox, ostrich, you name it.  The above cat hair brush is the perfect tool for evening out fibers in a loop once they are spun, and then for final prep once the loop is wrapped on the hook. Here are a few pics for the process of making a dubbing brush using the cat hair comb, and the final product on a tube style intruder.
A custom blend of Blue,  Black and Pearl (minnow hue) Flashy Dubbings, wrapped in wire to form a brush.  Notice the combed out even look.
Previous dubbing brush wrapped on the tube, before being combed and primped.
Dubbing brush after being combed and primped.  Great "bump" for soft materials.
A second "bump" of flashy dubbing on the front of the tube, post combing.  All that is needed now is your favorite flavor of palmered Marabou and accessories!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Making the Report

"Spey casters take a lot of casting pictures."  quoted by the best spey caster I know.  This fly photo can be a substitute for the casting shot.
As a steelhead fisherman it is easy to follow reports and numbers and myths about where the fish are and what's going on.  Especially early in ones steelhead career the lure of "the report" fish is as tempting as anything. Sometimes chasing the stories pays off, and often times it leads to a lot of anglers and few fish.  This past weekend a couple of us decided to ignore the fact that there wasn't a single steelhead reported in the creel survey for the river and go make our own luck.

About 10 casts in to our first run I got the subtle tap that sends a light jolt up your tip, into the hand, that signals something is on the end that isn't a rock.  Amazingly I held off from the immediate yank and about the 3rd grab placed the hookset meter on stun and lifted towards the bank.  There is always the lag that feels like an eternity where you can't tell wether you just set the hook on the bottom or something shinier.  After the lag there was the familiar throb that tells you it's not a rock or lumber or anything but a steelhead on the end of the line.  I couldn't help but yell out "suck it" after the species was confirmed; not as much to my buddy in front of me but to the steelhead gods and terrible reports and a long summer of fishing incredibly low water for too-warm trout.  This arrogance caught up to me quickly.  After a strong run into the head of the run a quick turn and wrap around the rock I hooked her off of and that was that.  Two perfection loops at the end of my sinktip were all that remained; a sharp reminder to keep my steelhead-god thoughts to myself.

That was the only steelhead hooked all weekend.  Two days of casting practice and sunshine  and Butte Moonshine (poor choice).  We couldn't even count it on the creel report, as hooked and lost fish don't count for much anyways.  But it fuels the fire.  And has me back at the vice, ready to head back out when the water cools a little more.  Ready to get some more casting photos.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Goodbye to an Old (blue) Friend

Saw this one rising the week before.  Nice when they're right were they should be.

After 6 years, a couple thousand river miles and a pile of trout I finally got rid of Ol' Blue, my Clackacraft Skiff.  I originally traded my high-side clack for it in '08, and have guided out of it since.  This year I wanted to upgrade to the Clack Eddy, and so Ol' Blue had to go.

Gus has his fish hold dialed.  This one was the best eat we saw all day.
Love fishing with old friends, especially when fish like this are eating the chubby.
To send off a legend of a boat, you can't simply have another day down the river.  For this trip it just so happened that my old friend Gus was in town for a few days of fishing.  Not only have Gus and I been fishing buddies for over a decade, he was one of the two guys who taught me how to row.  In fact it was Gus' Clackacraft that was the first driftboat I ever set foot in.  Since Gus hadn't fished much around Twin we elected to do an unusual float down the Beaverhead, which paid big dividends.  Dry droppers, a good thunderstorm and tons of laughs were had.  I couldn't imagine a better way to send Ol' Blue off.  She's now residing in Helena, and will be seen on the Mo, so if you see her floating around be careful not to follow too close, blue's mojo is incredible.
New Blue

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Swing the Fly: Issue 1.2


The new issue of Swing the Fly dropped this morning thanks to the hard work, vision and dedication of the crew over at Chi Wulff.  Great articles abound, including a ton of awesome photography, and a short piece by me about a steelhead trip that got saved by some stupid aggressive smallmouth bass.  Put down the TPS reports for an hour this afternoon and take a look, you'll be glad you did.