23
Feb 14

Flatswalker goes to Acklins

Flatswalker is good stuff. Recently, he went to Acklins and, luckily, he wrote about it.

I reach the hotel bar: dry, plainly furnished, with a quartet of anglers drinking in the corner. In place of a bartender there’s a ledger with a number of hash marks. Ah. The honor system. There’s a picnic cooler with an assortment of beer. A little digging surfaces a Kalik and after the first swig I feel my hopes rising. Surely the weather will clear to the east, right? Bound to. Surely.


01
Nov 13

Thoughts from Flatswalker

Flatswalker wrote a great little bit about casting, about the cast being the heart and soul of fly fishing and about how casting is not about strength, but about finesse.

Of course, I now realize that it was exactly my own effort that defeated me. Casting is about finesse and control, not strength, and certainly not anger.

I pretty much agree with all of that. I think about how little energy it takes a casting master to lay out their line and then contrast that with the effort less accomplished anglers put into their casting strokes and you can see a clear distinction.

Davin, in FL

Davin, in FL

However, I have a different view about where the heart and soul of our quiet sport can be found.

For me, it is the fly that sets us apart. When we catch a fish we have fooled it with the fly… something that is, on its own, scentless and lifeless. It might be easier to attach a shrimp to a hook, or a crab, the actual food these fish are seeking. It might be easier to put some scent on the fly to light up the olfactory senses of our target species. But we don’t do those things. We throw bits of metal with feather and fur and we inject life into them.

It’s like robbing a bank with a picture of a gun drawn on a post-it-note. It is artistry, both in the fly and in the presentation of the fly.


06
Oct 13

A little Flatswalker for your Sunday

Ah…. always enjoy a bit of goodness from Flatswalker.

To really know such places requires time, and memory is built slowly, in layers. It is accreted, like the new sand of a high tide or the detritus of a storm. There is meaning there somewhere.

Love the smile here. This stuff is fun.

Love the smile here. This stuff is fun.


08
Aug 13

Flatswalker on the DIY Debate

Yesterday’s post was about the DIY debate from This is Fly. Flatswalker waded (see what I did there?) in with a thoughtful reply.

“If I can slip back into my guide boots for a minute, I can attest that I’ve seen a flat take over 2 weeks to recover after being pounded every day for a week by a single DIY angler.”

Some good stuff there. Go read it (please).

Leutra04_DnJenkinsFlats(GrnChnl)


24
Apr 13

The Florida Crew – Flatswalker

If you’ve been around the blog for a while you know that I have a lot of respect for the Flatswalker blog. I dig his work and his writing. Davin was one of the writers in the first Pulp Fly and he’s a guy I’ve been in touch with over the last few years. So, it was great to find that he could make the Florida trip happen. I’ve never met him, although we’ve talked on the phone a few times.

That’s one of the great things about this trip… getting to fish with folks I’ve wanted to fish with. Davin is one of those guys and don’t worry Davin, I’ll bring a rain jacket.

 


09
Apr 13

The RIO Quickshooter

I was going to do a review of the RIO Quickshooter Bonefish Fly Line.  Then, I read the review of said line over at Flatswalker.com.

He crushed me both in time to evaluate the line, useful insight into what makes the line work so well and word-count.

Basically, a line should do what the box it came in advertises. It doesn’t have to have some trippy nano-texture copied from a Jesus Lizard or slide through the rod guides faster’n a greased up snake. It just has to not tangle, load the road and not fall apart too soon.

Classic. Read the rest of this too.

Here is what I had written about it:

If you look riiiiiiiight there, you can see the Quickshooter line.

If you look riiiiiiiight there, you can see the Quickshooter line.

The idea behind the Quickshooter is this… when you need to load a rod quickly, especially the ultra-fast rods you find on the flats today, you need a line capable of loading the rod with very little line out. This is a wading line for when you see the fish at 30 feet and need to send something pointy down range quickly.

I can say it works. Two of the fish I caught were while wading and one was probably about 35 feet away. I had no problem loading the rod quickly and making the shot.

I’d say I think the line is slightly less ideal for fishing out of a boat on a windy day when you want to keep line on the deck. The thin running line can get a bit FUBAR if not watched closely or if you are fishing with flats beginners who don’t understand their role in keeping your line from birdnesting.

I like the line and will fish it in the future for sure, especially if I think I’ll be doing a lot of wading.

*This line was sent gratis by RIO.

 


17
Mar 13

A word on casting… but not from me

I was watching a video of a guy fishing in Cuba. Love Cuba. Beautiful place and the fishing? Please.

However, hated the guy’s casting. It was painful. Jerky. The opposite of smooth. I was almost offended.

You ever had a Bahamain guide borrow your rod and cast, effortlessly, the whole damn line? Yeah… I have. Humbling.

Here is a Caribbean guide with some pointers (and yes, that is Davin, from Flatswalker).

 


16
Jan 13

Island Paradise Lost

Flatswalker has a bit to share about what island life is really like…

The strange truth about paradise is that it eventually gets to be boring and, quite frankly, depressing.

Now, he goes on to share some of the good as well, but it is an interesting read.

I’ll try to remember paradise isn’t paradise as I slog the 2K miles a month to work and school and home in a maddening OPEC merry-go-round.

We have seasons here in the Bay Area.  Three of them, really. We have summer… I love summer. The sun is up until 9 at some point and it feels like you have time to do pretty much anything. Then we fall. Fall, in the Bay, lasts until spring. It goes from about October until March. Spring is a short thing… April to May. We have other seasons we can drive to and every once in a while the mountains around the Bay (kind of big hills, really) show a dusting of white, but it tends to melt by 2:00 and there are no plows or road salt.

I will go on with my ideal vision of the tropics.

I saw a bumper sticker in Kauai onces that read “Kauai, a great place to visit. Don’t move here.” That kind of gets in the way of the fantasy.

The Slack Tide Bar... one of my most favorite places on this planet.

The Slack Tide Bar… one of my most favorite places on this planet. Don’t mess with the fantasy.


17
Jul 12

Trust Me, It’s the Rod – Guest Post by Flatswalker

This is a guest post by Davin over at Flatswalker.  When I spouted off about “It’s the reel” he replied. I thought you all might like a little more light shed on his views (as I did). Tomorrow, I’ll reply with my own thoughts (here is that post).  But for today…

TRUST ME, IT’S THE ROD

I’m a tackle snob. I try not to be, but there it is. I might not own the best gear, but I think I do. I have a penchant for ultra-light, yet sturdy tackle, and generally believe in “Final Decisions”—that is, spending time and (often good) money to buy something once, and own it pretty much for life.†

However, in my line of work I do get to cast a lot of rods in a lot of price ranges. I also get to watch folks compare their rods and mine. My conclusion: Rods matter. I’ll go farther and say it’s about the most important decision you can make before embarking on a bonefishing trip.

We tend to fall back on habit when our brains shut off at the sight of a tailing bonefish (or when the guide starts yelling cast now, cast now, 40 feet!) Then we revert to our default cast—the cast we’ve practiced most and is the most natural for us, regardless of the rod in hand. If you’ve chosen your rod correctly then you’re in great shape when you have to rely on instinct.

When you don’t have a lot of time, you need to feel the rod.

Here’s The Problem: most of us don’t chose our rods correctly, especially for salt water. Our choices are usually based on arbitrary criteria like affordability, or “Orvis is for posers” or “my buddy/the fly-shop guy/Andy Mills says these rods are awesome and he knows way more than me” or (worst of all) how far we can cast the rod.

The critical factor in choosing a rod is how you cast. Is your casting stroke short, long, relaxed, fast? Can you double haul? Do you have great timing instead? These are actually the first questions you need to ask when selecting a rod. How far you can cast it will have next-to-nothing to do with how it actually fishes. Trust me.

In fact, I’d say that needing to distance cast is a relatively narrow niche in saltwater fishing—especially sight fishing. Generally  you’re called upon to reach that redfish at 40 feet, or that bonefish at 50. Maybe you need a longer string for spooky permit, but you’ll likely be using a 10-weight at that point so 60 feet shouldn’t be too much trouble. Any farther than that and—for sight fishing—you’re into the realms of fantasy. Even if you can bomb it out there to 80 feet—unlikely—you probably won’t be accurate enough to put the fly where it needs to be to feed the fish.

Ok, there are some aspects of bonefishing that might be obvious but I should have listed at the outset.

  1. First, you need to see the fish. This will usually happen between 25 and 80 feet. Any farther and you probably won’t be able to see it—bonefish being relatively small, excellently camouflaged fish in a giant ocean. Any closer and you’ve probably already spooked it.
  2. The fish has to see your fly. Hail-Mary cast in the general direction won’t get it done. You’ve got to place the fly deliberately where the fish can see it without spooking it so that you can…
  3. Feed the fish. This is the bottom line. If you can’t reach the fish before it gets too close, or put the fly where the fish can see it, then you won’t feed it.

That is what this is all about and my experience with rods is that most have holes in their performance. This is particularly true with the new generation of fast-action sticks, the true rocket launchers that make us feel like we can reach any fish on the horizon.

Here’s the straight skinny: ultra-fast rods are the worst rods for bonefishing. I say this for both the expensive and inexpensive sticks. If you can’t feel a rod with less than 30 feet of line out the tip, you’ll miss most bonefish. Bonefishing happens between 30-50 feet. That’s pretty close, and they’re usually moving toward you. You have very little time to get the fly out and feed the fish. If you’ve got to make half-dozen false casts just to load the rod, that fish will be inside 30 feet by then and you’re done. Game over. Redo from start. What you really need is a rod that allows you to cast to that sweet spot in 1-2 false casts. You should not be struggling to feel the rod, and you should be able to accurately present the fly inside 30 feet.

Before you protest, think this through. Your rod is roughly ten feet long, so is your leader. That means with only five feet of fly line out the rod you’ve got close to 25 feet. How many rods do you think allow you to feel five feet of fly line? ‡

See what I mean? Too far is rarely a problem. What is a problem is accuracy, and that means casting the right rod for you, first of all, and then considering the conditions you’ll be fishing in. We’re talking bonefishing here, and that means breeze—8-18 knots all the time—and the varying distances depending on if you’re wading or being poled. For wading practice 30-50 foot casts, with a few shots inside or outside. If you’re on a skiff then 40-60 feet. Flies will be relatively small and light—generally #6-#2 hooks with medium bead-chain to medium lead eyes for weight. The perfect bonefish rod will allow you to easily load the rod in close and still reach the medium distances of 50-60 feet in these conditions. It is a lot to ask of a rod, so take your time and choose wisely.

 

The rod, the reel AND the beer. Perfect.

†Obviously, not every purchase falls into this category. Beer, bread, and boxer shorts, for instance, seem like ongoing investments… at least for the foreseeable future.
‡ Plenty; they’re called 3-weights.


11
Jun 12

What not to bring

There are lots of things that you SHOULD consider bringing with you on your bonefishing trip (I love Desitin, for example).  Flatswalker had some thoughts about what you SHOULD NOT bring with you. See the full list here.

Some of Flats Walker’s no-no’s:

  • Sandals. I don’t care what you call them or what brand they are, you’ll regret it.
  • Grey polarized sunglasses (unless you’re legitimately color blind, then maybe).
  • Rod tubes… I mean, why?

What are some of the things you urge people to not to bring?

One thing I’d add to the list…

Chardonnay.

Yeah... not bonefishing...

Oh… and Bananas. Of course.