Friday, July 21, 2017

Grass Carp fly pattern - One of my favorites.

Over the last few months I've gotten a lot of questions about the what fly I use.  Here's one that I've had some success using.  It's a simple leech pattern (took me longer to type this post than tie the fly) that I've talked about before.  It's not much different than any other leech pattern except I add a foam head to either keep it floating or slow the fall down.  This allows me to drop it right in front of a feeding grass carp and it slowly falls right in front of their face.  They can't resist that slow fall.

Materials
sz 6 Gama SL45 Bonefish hook
Black or whatever color head you want craft foam.  Cut to less than hook gap and 1.5 inches long.
UTC 70 thread or whatever you have.
Black Marabou (or any color you prefer) I do these in olive also.
Black Rabbit strip.
Saddle Hackle
Black Crystal flash - optional




Secure the hook in the vise. I pinch the barb on mine but forgot to do it for this post.



 
Put down a thread base.  Then tie on the rabbit strip.




 Tie in the foam.  Leave enough room at the eye to fold back and build a small head.




 Next up is the marabou




Matched to the same length or slightly less than the rabbit strip...couple lose raps then pull to the length you desire.  




 More marabou on the bottom.  Measured at about half of the rabbit strip.




Add some flash.  Tie in on one side then cross over and down the other side.  I avoid the loud or obnoxious flash.  I skip this step at times.




Tie in the saddle hackle by the tip.  Only 3-4 wraps.  I don't want the longer fibers found at the base.




 Here you can see it's just enough to give it a buggy look but not too much.




For the head just fold the foam back to the desired size you want.  I make them in a few different sizes.  Bigger they'll float at or on the surface.  Smaller they'll sink head up.




Whip finish over the foam.




 Finished and ready to fish.




I fish these either under a small pinch on indicator, as a dropper or alone.

Got questions post in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.


Friday, July 14, 2017

New Grass Carp on the fly video. Went a different direction with this one.

This was a fun project.  I wanted to do something more cinematic with the latest video.  There's still some gopro footage included but most of the camera work was done with my DSLR.  Still learning but I like the way it came out.  Take a look and if you feel like commenting please do...always open to feedback.

For best viewing open the link in YouTube and watch in 1080/60.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Review - The New Bending Branches Angler Pro Kayak Fishing Paddle


One of the cool things about having a blog is every now and then I get the chance to do a product review.  A few months back, the crew at Bending Branches asked for feedback on their new 2017 Angler Pro kayak fishing paddle.  I purchased my first Bending Branches paddle in 2010 and it’s still in service today.  Naturally with that kind of durability, I was excited for the opportunity to give them honest feedback.  Especially after learning it's being sold at a lower price point.  Yep, they’ve made improvements without raising the price.  That never happens!

The new "Raptor" color.

One of the things I respect is that these paddles are made in the USA.  You can actually walk up and shake hands with the person who made your paddle…maybe not the actual person, but definitely someone from the factory.  In June, I did just that while traveling through Wisconsin.  I made a phone call first because, well, a random dude showing up outside your office makes people uncomfortable.  Also, while seeing the factory is cool, I really wanted someone to show me some good spots to fish. 


Not only was the fishing terrific that week (Read about it here), I also learned how the entire process works from start to finish.  Disclaimer, my wife explained it to me later because I was busy talking to Bill from Branches about the fishing.  However, I do remember seeing the three sweet color options available and something about “lean manufacturing” and how every Angler Pro is made to order.  Meaning when an order is placed, the paddle is made and shipped soon after.  There’s no standing inventory to pull from which is important because that new paddle you just purchased is literally a new paddle.  It hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse for a year waiting to be sold. 

Bill with the new "Radiant" color option.

The next afternoon, I put the new Angler Pro in my hands for the first time and was instantly impressed.  I didn’t have the specs at the time but I did have my earlier version of the same paddle to compare.  The prior version is 30 oz and the new version felt lighter.  You can see from the picture that the blade has also been redesigned.  Full specs are included below. 
The new Angler Pro is slightly shorter

Slightly wider


New ridge down the center creates rigidity and directs  water over the surface of the blade.


 I’m sure someone vaguely familiar with fluid dynamics can offer a better explanation but all I have is that the blade sliced through the water so easily and silently, I had to do the Aaron Rodgers “Discount Double Check” more than once to be sure it was actually in the water.  At least that’s how my kayak angler mind explained the feeling in my hands.  The new Angler Pro was a joy to paddle because it felt like I was moving water without the normal resistance or sound that happens when you pull a blunt object through water. 

Mile 7 on the Buffalo National River.  



Fatigue and discomfort are two things that can have a negative impact on your outing.  After a month of regular use, I’ve yet to experience any shoulder soreness or develop any blisters.  The Angler Pro comes with an oval shaped carbon fiber shaft that offers both, comfort and a solid grip.  It has just enough flex to be forgiving on the elbows and wrists but doesn’t sacrifice responsiveness.  Rest assured when you need to move water, it will move water.

Buffalo National River

It’s still offered in the Plus Ferrule and Snap-Button Ferrule designs.  I prefer the plus because it can be adjusted from 240 cm to 255 cm with infinite feathering options which allows me to use it with several different kayaks.  For example, I use it at 255 cm when in my Jackson Kayak (JK) MayFly but like it slightly shorter at 245 cm when I’m paddling my JK Cuda 12.  Another advantage for those with children is it will grow with your young paddlers as they grow and change kayaks. 

My daughters on one of many trips this summer

Recently my family paddled 9-miles on the Buffalo National River.  My 10-year-old daughter paddled her JK Skipper the entire trip using the new Angler Pro and never complained.  The ability to adjust the paddle length, the light weight and the over-all comfort provided her with a great experience.  It was a proud moment for me and I think the paddle made a big difference.  We’re both looking forward to more paddling adventures together.



Whether you’re paddling several miles between fishing holes or just trying to get your kids more involved in the sport, this paddle should be at the top of your list.  The award-winning features that made the Former Angler Pro, YakAngler’s Kayak Fishing Paddle of the year from 2013-2016, have been improved.  The quality and performance that I’ve come to expect from Bending Branches is undeniable in the new, 2017 Angler Pro. 


2017 Bending Branches Angler Pro

New, lower price points! $299.95 (Snap) $324.95 (Plus)
New patterns: Dorado, Radiant, and Raptor
New lower weight: 28.5 oz
New oversized blade shape and profile
Available in lengths from 230-260cm in 10cm increments and in the Plus ferrule, 230-245cm or 240-255cm

Friday, June 16, 2017

Road Trip Wisconsin - Muskie on the fly (with video)


During my second deployment in the Navy working a security detail, a FNG walked up and asked me where he could find a “bulkhead remover”?  Being completely serious, I explained that my department was out but I was sure the Damage Control (DC) department had some.  The DC department was located 10 floors down and on the opposite end of the ship.  
Camp at Moose Lake

In the Navy a “bulkhead” is another name for a wall.  Of course, this was the game that was played on each of us at some point during our early days on a ship and it was my duty to keep him on his quest.  
Changing the spools on 8-10 weights for the afternoon sessions 

View of the lake from camp
Bald Eagles were a daily seen.  Often flying right over my kayak. 

As painful as it is to admit, I’ve been fooled by another wild goose chase.  This time, chasing unicorns.  The elusive and cunning muskie, a fish of 10,000 casts.  I would like to believe they exist but I don’t know anyone that’s caught one.  In fact, I’ve never actually seen one in the water.  Sure, I’ve seen the pictures on Facebook and other social media sites.  I’ve stood in awe of the impressive wall mounts hanging from fly shops and tackle stores.  

St Croix River smallie

I’m convinced it’s a ruse to protect the trophy smallmouth fisheries.  More than likely, it’s purely entertainment purposes.  Like that time your father stuck you in a field to hunt snipe.  Imagine the joy those in the know get from watching you walk into a fly shop and ask for the musky area.  They point over to that one obscure corner of the room that seems completely out of place.  Traditional flies are created to match the hatch.  They appear more natural and resemble what you would find on the water. In contrast, the muskie section looks like it belongs in a store off Bourbon Street.   


Hanging from the ceiling and every nook are huge streamers made of the most obnoxious colors available.  If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can purchase your own bright and shiny materials to create your own modern art.  A far cry from matching the hatch and one I think has a more direct purpose, aside from the in-store humor of course! 



On the water, you’ll be the star of the show, clearly seen from a mile away punishing yourself while you wrestle a foot-long fly over your head with a 10 weight.  Over 4 days, I never saw another person throwing those huge Vegas Showgirl streamers.   I did run into several boats that asked me if the muskie were biting in a manner that suggested they already knew the answer.  Almost like I was on the outside of an inside joke.   That moment stuck with me.  Eventually, I figured out the joke.  It’s a myth created by anglers purely for entertainment purposes. 
Upper Mississippi River

High's in the 90's and lows in the 50's made for foggy mornings

If you ever find yourself on the water and you see a guy slinging a chicken that appears to have just participated in "The Color Run", do your part and be sure to continue the tradition.  When he asks, “if the muskie are biting”, show him a picture of a 52 incher, tell him it was taken just a few days ago and explain that the best area is over there while pointing to the other side of the lake.  At least a two-mile paddle away.  Once you’ve figured out the game it’s your responsibility to help others on their path to enlightenment.


For best results open the video on YouTube and watch in 1080/60


Monday, May 22, 2017

White River "Streamer Arm" (w/ Video)


Radial Neuropathy is the “acute trauma to the radial nerve that extends the length of the arm.”  Some common symptoms include, numbness (back of the hand and wrist), and inability to voluntarily straighten the fingers.  Loss of wrist extension is due to loss of the ability to move of the posterior compartment of forearm muscles.”  In the college scene, it's better known as Drunk Arm.  It’s the result of binge drinking to the point of passing out on your arm and damaging the nerve.  In the fly fishing world it’s simply known as, Streamer Arm.  


While I have never experienced drunk arm, I can assert that 40 hours of rowing and slinging 8-10 inch streamers is traumatic to the casting arm.  Imagine if Miami Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton used your arm for a bat in the Home Run Derby and you’re getting close to the feeling.   

High Water and fast flows


How do you know if you’re suffering from streamer arm?  Aside from the more recognizable symptoms such as, regularly blaming your poor casting on your throbbing elbow, debating the use of a woolly bugger as a streamer and the constant smell of Icy Hot in the boat.  There are some lesser known signs to look for, like wondering if you can overdose on Ibuprofen. 




Also, if you're camping in an area that’s under a tornado watch and the sound of a C-130 landing on your head wakes you up.  The idea of using your cell phone to check the weather seems logical but the action involves using your arm.  Instead, you take another Ibuprofen.    

Lunch





If you’re still not sure.  A conversation I had with my wife when I got home might help.  Wife, “Did y’all sleep any this weekend?  You look terrible.  What’s wrong with your right eye?  I think you have Pink Eye.  Gross, you have a bug in it.”  Me, "Oh yeah, I remember it flying in there Saturday night but my arm hurt too much to dig it out.  Can you open the Ibuprofen bottle for me?" 




And why do we do it?  When you see a 25-27-inch brown tracking your fly back to the boat, you’ll understand?  It’s worth every painful minute.  Can’t wait to get back to the White River and suffer again!