Check out this nugget from the good folks at Sage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fast Company had a story about how spending money on experiences is better than spending money on things. To this I say “Duh.”
Any fly fisherman will tell you that (or most, if they think about it long enough… sure, some will never get to that conclusion, but some people are idiots and this cannot be helped).
The purpose of the rod is to enable you to take the trip, to be out there, on the water, near the water, in the water, doing the thing the rod was built for. The purpose of the rod is not to sit in your garage, unused, unseen, un-bothered. The rod is to be held, gripped, dipped in water (fresh or salt) and flung around a bit. A rod is built to be thrown, in excitement or in frustration because of the power wrapped up in the experience. The purpose of the rod is not to be owned, not to be counted as a thing, but to be counted as an extension of your arm, of your will, to reach out with it across the distances to connect you intimately to the experience.
It is the experience we seek, that we crave, and the thing becomes a tool, a means to an end, or, sometimes, a substitute for the thing until we can be out there again.
The vice is not something we have to have a vice, but to connect us to the experience of creating. I think the experience is more valuable than the sum of all the flies I’ve tied, of all the materials I’ve bought (and man, I sure do burn through materials when I’m on a fly tying kick). The act of wrapping the thread around the hook, the act of creation, of art, that is what it is really about.
Of course the experience > the thing. The thing has no purpose without the experience. It is the experience I crave and dream of, not owning more rods, unless the new rod or reel opens up some new experience.
Yes, this is a thing we anglers know and know well. So, we’re ahead of the game on that front at least.