19
Jul 17

YOU DO NOT NEED NEW GEAR!

Truth.

Now… let me show you my new gear.

We are full of contradictions and inconsistencies and that proves one thing. We are human.

When I read about a $1,100 trout rod I was incredulous. “Stupid” I thought. No trout (OK, almost no trout) is going to really, really test your tackle. You don’t need space-age materials to land a 14″ rainbow. Man, we fly fishermen are a gullible lot.

But…

But… I really did want a back-up 8 wt. and when I cast the newly re-launched Predator rod from Redington, I kind of wanted it. I have an 8 wt. A really good one. I also have two other 8’s that work in a pinch. I didn’t NEED a new 8 wt, but I did WANT a new 8 wt. and I, in fact, got a new 8 wt.

And… ya know… what’s a new rod without a new reel? So, I picked up a Behemoth as well (cheap and powerful, a good combo).

Had to get a new line too, of course… so I added another RIO Bonefish line to the arsenal.

I could have fished a week without any of these things. I could have gone on with exactly what I have and I would have been fine. But… ya know… I wanted that stuff.

I also picked up a new hooded sun shirt from Patagonia which I hope will keep me from burning anything important in my on-going quest to appease my wife and not die prematurely. I should add it would NOT appease my wife for me to die prematurely.

So, I got a new shirt. I have a lot of shirts. I have favorite shirts and lucky shirts and shirts that are jinxed or hexed and shirts with no known ability to attract or repel fish of any kind. I didn’t need a new shirt. But I did want a new shirt. I wanted two, actually, and so I also got a new Redington bonefish shirt.

Flyfishing attracts gear-heads, it seems, and while it sometimes seems outright dumb to buy and buy and buy there is also something entirely enjoyable about sliding a new rod out of a rod tube and putting backing on a new reel, just as there is something deeply fulfilling about adding the 304th fly into the fly box.

So… YOU DON’T NEED NEW GEAR! But, that’s not really why we buy the gear in the first place.


10
Jul 17

Lids

I love hats, but I’m particular about which hats I sport. They need to mean something to me. I need to feel a connection to them. Not only that, but I am so white as to be almost transparent and I need something to keep me from frying. I’ve had two friends in the last year be diagnosed with melanoma and I’ve had some pre-cancerous “things” removed. My wife keeps threatening me that if I get more bad sunburns she won’t LET ME FISH anymore. That’s a conversation I’d rather not have. So, hats, in part, are a pretty critical part of the sun-avoidance strategy.

Here are some thoughts about what you should wear on the flats. Andros South. Gink & Gasoline. Orvis.

I tried doing a wide brimmed hat, but it doesn’t take too many windy days to abandon that whole idea.

My floppy hat (and my now 10 year old in the backpack).

I had a green Patagonia trout hat that I loved until someone stole it from my car.

That green hat, my first decent bonefish and some horrible fish handling.

I tried a broad brim straw hat, which, I have to say, may be my favorite type of fishing hat. Cool and tons of shade, but not great to travel with, not great in a strong wind or while you are running in a skiff.

the broad brimmed straw hat.

I had a Skinny Water Culture hat, but it didn’t fit on my right. I wanted it to work, because I dig on what the are/do, but it was just a tad tight on me.

SWC Perm

By the time I fished Andros in 2011 I had a Andros South hat (given to me by the guys who went to Andros in 2010). I wore that for a couple years and watched it fade from bright orange to almost a light pink.

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett

I was still wearing that hat in 2012 for my honeymoon.

A fish from in front of El Pescador and that Andros South hat.

In Cuba I got a Yellow Dog hat, a trucker cap, that I put through the paces.

Well worn and sweat stained.

In 2012 I moved to my BTT hat. The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is a fantastic organization and I have roots in the nonprofit sector so I felt an affinity for what they were all about.

mmmmm

I wore that hat a lot. Like… a lot, a lot.

That is me… happy.

Heading out in Abaco

But that hat has seen better days.

You’ve had a good run.

So, I looked for another hat.

I got a Patagonia trout hat.

My Maui Bar Jack

But, I don’t fish trout that much these days.

So, I got a tarpon hat from Costa.

My last trip to Hawaii proved to me that I shouldn’t wear trucker caps. I need more sun protection, as a member of the “nearly balds.” I got a decent sunburn just where the full coverage stopped. I often wouldn’t have the buff up all the way on top and that fried my cranium.

So… I needed a new hat.

The new lid

Welcome to the family Patagonia tarpon hat. I look forward to many years and many fish to come. Full sun protection and it fits well. The color makes me think of the tropics.

Why a tarpon hat? Well, easier to find than a bonefish hat and I do have a significant side crush on poons.

 


24
Apr 17

Sage Salt Season

Check out this nugget from the good folks at Sage.

 

 


17
Jan 17

Flies (and gear) for Belize

Belize… smallest fish of my 2010 trip.

Belize, 88 days away, means I need to get back at the vice and it means different flies than I’d have in my box otherwise.

On the bonefish front, it means small flies. #6’s and #8’s… yes… #8’s. Not only smaller flies than you are likely to fish in the Bahamas, but also adding a weed-guard is a good idea.

For tarpon… well… I do dig on the bunny flies and I could stand a few more lighter colored tarpon bunnies. I’ll likely ties some #1’s for any tarpon I might come across.

Now… this is a trip with my daughter and while our goal is for her to catch a bonefish on a fly (if we end up at a mud, don’t judge me), it is possible we need to throw some gear for fish as well. I’m never really too sure what spinning gear to bring along for maybe catching a bonefish. That isn’t what I’ve been doing. So, might need to seek out some consultation on that front.

How much fly fishing I get to do is really a great unknown. The #1 priority is to keep the girl happy and have a good vacation. That certainly means I’ll fish less than I would like to fish, but there WILL be some fishing.


18
Apr 16

Cool boat for sale. Memories not included.

I saw Eric was selling his boat, an Ankona 17′ that is super unique.

I got to fish out of that boat with Eric last year. It is a great boat for the back country and I wish I were on the thing right now looking for snook or reds or, god forbid, tarpon. Florida haunts me a bit. This boat was one of the best parts of that last trip.

It just doesn’t get much better looking than this thing.

eric boat


05
Feb 16

What to bring

Hatch Magazine put up a post on packing for your saltwater trip. These sorts of lists are always worth reading.

Got me thinking about some of the odd and ends I bring.

Socks. Cheap, white, mass-produced socks. In my opinion, that’s the best thing to wear with your wading boots. Forget the neoprene booties. The cheap white socks will do a good job of protecting your feet from the grit and sand. When done for the day, just toss them out.

Desitin. More commonly known as a butt cream for you baby, Desitin is a good thing to have if you end up getting a wading rash. If you have tried to walk a flat with one of those, it sucks. This can help address the issue.

Trip Saver.

Damn good to have.

A spinning rod. That’s right. A frigging spinning rod. I’ll tell you… I’ve had some days just wrenched from the trash-heap by having a spinning rod in the boat with a big, massive pencil popper for cudas. When you get tired of getting your ass handed to you for 5 or 6 hours in a row, hooking and landing a cuda on a spinning rig is just pure fun.

Everything else I bring is pretty standard.

  • Quick dry pants
  • Long sleeved shirts
  • Hat
  • Sun mask
  • Sun gloves
  • Sun Screen
  • 2 8wts
  • 1 10wt
  • A few hundred flies
  • First aid kit
  • Extras Kit with superglue and rod tips and kevlar thread, etc.
  • Wading boots
  • Dry Bag
  • Hip gear bag
  • Cameras
  • Solar panel for emergency charging
  • Spools and spools of extra mono and fluoro and wire. Be ready for whatever comes at ya
  • Sunglasses
  • Good pair of pliers

26
Jan 16

The 8 Weight Shootout

The Yellowstone Angler put out their 8 Weight Shootout, comparing the 8 weights from around the industry from the pricey Helios 2 to the cheap Echo Base.

fly rods

I think I’ve cast five or six of these rods and my go-to bonefish rod is the Orvis Helios 2. I also own Reddington Predator 10 and 12 weights. I also also have a TFO Clouser 8 wt. and a Rise 8 wt. as well (just to lay down my saltwater rods, I think I have 16 fly rods in all weights).

The good news, I feel safe in proclaiming, is that there are a lot of great options out there.

There are also some bad ones… and this group doesn’t pull punches.

Here is a rod that is slow in action, heavy in swing weight, and performs badly at all distances.

Don’t get that one.

I would have like to see Clutch and Rise in the mix as well, but they have done a good job putting this together.


29
Nov 15

Remember Albright?

Albright GP's

Albright GP’s

The emails were as frequent as they were slightly misleading. SALE! Everyday a SALE of some kind or another and you had to ACT FAST to take advantage… except you didn’t need to act fast because the sale price was the every day price.

That was Albright for you. Some years ago now the emails stopped and I didn’t even realize it. Albright shut down, although their shell of a website says warranties are still honored.

I own two of their rods. I have an 8/9 rod that was the first rod I got to do anything in the salt, quickly replaced by a better stick, and a spinning rod I got to chase after jacks and cudas. Oddly enough, I’ve had way more joy out of the spinning rod, although I recently cracked one of the ferrules out prospecting on the beach here.

I guess we are fortunate that we live in a time where a company like Albright can disappear and I don’t even notice it. We are flush with options, most of them pretty good, at a variety of price points, from just over $100 to well over $700 when it comes to rods capable of casting to a bonefish.

They had reels too and it felt like they tried to branch out into other gear as well, but my memory is fuzzy here and it isn’t like I can go research on their website. Whatever it was they did, didn’t work. Fly fishing is a tough market to crack, I’d think. It matters profoundly to those of us who are passionate about it, but we are not so numerous as we sometimes think we are and the established players are very, very established.

So long Albright. My inbox doesn’t miss you.


19
Aug 15

Best looking boat on the water

When I was on that Florida tarpon hunt I had the distinct pleasure of riding around part of the week in the best looking boat on the water. If you’ve been out in the Glades or around Miami, you might have seen it. I’m talking about Eric Estrada’s Ankona.

Check it out.

That is a good looking boat.

That is a good looking boat.

Each boat is built for a purpose and this is built for the backwaters, the skinny stuff. We tried to make this into an ocean-side tarpon boat, but a little water over the gunnels and we thought better of it. It is a thing of beauty. The art, Eric’s original art, is a wrap around the hull, so it can be changed, but I just love the look of it.


09
Aug 15

The Predator 12 Weight

Big rod... good rod. The Predator 12 weight.

Big rod… good rod. The Predator 12 weight.

Things got a little crazy on here after I got back from Florida and some of the stuff I wanted to write I didn’t get to, so I’m going to get back to all of that.

I went to go find the big ladies on their migratory journey. I found a few (very few) and they were uninterested in me (felt like high school). Since I was after the 100 pound plus fish I had a correspondingly heavy rod. In this case, I had a loaner Redington Predator 12 weight.

The Predator 12 is a big rod for big fish. It has the additional cork grip so you can really put the stick to the fish with out snapping the thing in more pieces than intended. I’ve never actually cast a rod with the second grip before and I thought might make things a bit heavy. That proved to not be a concern as I found the rod cast remarkably well. Davin put some casts out with the Predator and he liked it as well.

I can’t tell you how if felt on a fish because I didn’t hook a fish on the 12. I really, really, really wish I could tell you how it felt on a big, mature female tarpon, maybe 110 pounds… ya know, the stuff of dreams. Dreams they remain and not born from them on this trip.

So, what I can tell you about the Predator 12 is that it felt good to cast. It wasn’t too heavy and I’m considering adding that rod to the arsenal. At $249, it is a steal by half.

I like gear that is a value and this clearly is. You can spend anywhere from $150 to $900 on a rod these days and for me, every dollar spent on gear is one fewer dollar for the trip kitty. I like to find value for money and this is clearly that.

They make the Predator all the way up to a 14 (I assume for fishing for submarines).

I’m favorably inclined and I bet, if you were in the market, you might enjoy the Predator 12 too, especially if you don’t want to damage your bank account too much in the process.