11
Sep 18

Chasing GTs with a factory loop

There’s lots of advice out there about how to rig up for GT fishing. There are strong, educated opinions.

I’m told before I go GT fishing I should cut the front loop off my brand-new ~$100 fly line and build my own loop.

It is even talked about in the book “GT, A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Giant Trevally.” In the book, Peter McLeod talks about how he builds his own loops out of 50lb hollow braid.

I can see how, when GTs first became a species chased with a fly rod, fly lines might not have been up for the challenge. What I can’t see is how that’s still the case in 2018.

I mean… is RIO, for example, really selling a fly line that requires you to first cut part of it off and refashion a loop in order for it to be fished effectively? That can’t be the case, right?

What do I know about fishing for GTs? Pretty much nothing. I’ve caught one adult tarpon and lost a few more, but those are my big fish. In those cases I trusted to the manufacturer’s loops. Can’t I just trust the line maker for GTs?

I decided to ask RIO. Here’s what they said:

He shouldn’t be worried about loops. Lots of people use this line successfully for GTs with the factory loop. People do ruin lines, but the majority of those occur when a fish drags the line over something sharp like rocks or coral. That can strip the coating off or even cut through the core.

 

The loops on the GT line are manufactured a little differently than a loop on say a trout line. In addition to welding the coating together, we add a reinforcing PVC sleeve around the weld. As a result the welded loop is typically stronger than the line’s core break strength.

 

The one piece of information I’d add is that the loop knot in the end of the leader may end up being a weak point. A perfection loop, like on a typical trout leader, decreases the break strength of the mono by about 20%. That doesn’t matter if the tippet is significantly weaker than the leader butt, but for a level leader a figure-8 loop is a better option.

So… I’m going to NOT open my GT fly line from the box and cut the tip off. I’m betting the possibility of my operator error is higher than the likelihood of a manufacturing defect.

Yup… I’m going to put my faith in the company.


04
Dec 17

A post for SOs and spouses… this is what your flats fisherman wants for Christmas (2017).

Folks… forward this on to your loved ones if you’d like to drop hints, but don’t want to just fill out an Amazon Wish List.

Flats Anglers have needs… special needs… needs that are different from Rocky Mountain trout anglers or a bass fisherman. We are special.

First… there is the sun. The sun is kind of brutal out there on the flats. There’s no shade wading a flat or standing on a flats skiff. So… here are a few thing we might need to stay un-crisp.

The Patagonia Men’s Tropic Comfort Hoody II.
Long name, but a pretty awesome shirt for the sun. The hood, the high collar, the thumb holes… I like it all. I have one in blue and I want more.

M'S TROPIC COMFORT HOODY II, Tailored Grey (TGY)

And since we’re on Patagonia… let’s talk about the Guidewater II Pants.
I have several pairs of these. I love them. After a day in the salt they sort of harden to be similar to armor. I love that feeling. I’ve torn a couple pairs at this point, but those were 100% my fault.

M'S GUIDEWATER II PANTS, El Cap Khaki (ELKH)

I also have this hat
Trucker caps are cool… but if you are like me (a bit bald) the mesh doesn’t do what I need it to in terms of keeping me from burning.

Fitz Roy Tarpon Stretch Fit Hat, Navy Blue (NVYB)

And because it is part of the uniform and part of not burning… how about a Stalker Mask from Skinny Water Culture.

SWC Tail Pima Cotton Stalker Mask

Everyone NEEDS good sunglasses out on the flats. I prefer Costas, which is pretty much what 95% of the fly anglers I know fish with.

A trigger, and Costas

In terms of our feet… well… that is less about sun and more about coral/shells/urchins. There are two boots I’ve used lately. My heavy boots were from Patagonia, but a look on their website and they DON’T MAKE THEM ANYMORE! Crap!

Luckily, others do. Here’s the other pair of flats boots I have. The Simms Zipit Bootie II.
These pack down nicely to save room. I have these a size too small, sadly, which can make a day on the water a bit uncomfortable (I wear a 14 and it can be hard to get what I need in this department). It looks very much like Simms has you covered in their other designs as well. I mean… Simms… pretty solid.

You need a pack while you are out there, and I recently converted over to the Thunderhead sling pack by Fishpond. In addition to being just an awesome company (love their conservation ethic), the sling does a couple of things really well. It is waterproof. I can leave my phone in that thing without worrying. Second, it is big enough for me to carry everything I need without sacrificing. Third, with it sitting higher than a hip pack if I leave a zipper open in haste, it isn’t going to fill up with water with one deep step. I’m a fan.

Now… on to the rod and reel end of things.

Let’s start with the most important element piece of hard gear for the salt… the reel.

The best budget option out there right now, by far, is the Behemoth from Redington. I mean… at $129 you can pick up three of these for the price of one of the bigger named reels. They are not likely to fish for 20 years, but if you need a back-up or want to pick up a rig for your first trip without fully investing… this is a great option.

Other reels I think highly of..

I’ve always wanted a Galvan T8. At $430, this is what passes for a mid-range reel for saltwater. They are also a California company, which is cool.

Image result for galvan t8

It seems these days a lot of the top anglers I see are sporting the Hatch 7+. At $650, this is a solid high-end reel.

FinaticGen2_7Plus_SpoolSide_GrayBlack_LA_web

Now… on to the rods, which some would argue is just as important as the reel… maybe even more important.

On the budget side of things, the revamped Redington Predator is a good, solid option. Budget, for a saltwater rod, is about $300. I’ve got three Predators, an 8, 10 and 12. When you are going multi-species and are looking at three rods, it gets hard to fathom getting three $800 rods. The Predator helps get you around that.

For the top end of the market… I love, love, love my Orvis Helios 2. Now, they have a third version of this rod out now, so, you’d have to settle for an H3 (which is supposed to be even better).

Helios 3D 8-Weight 9' Fly Rod

Other rods that are beloved by anglers I deeply respect include…
The Meridian from Scott.
The Sage Salt HD.

In terms of fly lines, I’ve pretty much been a RIO guy for a while.
I like their standard bonefish line. They have a Quickshooter line as well, and I’d recommend that if you are going to primarily wading for your bones, or if you might need a little bit more loading on your rod. They also have a directcore line, which I haven’t fished, but seems really promising.

Bonefish

That’s it.

OK. That’s not IT. There is a ton more. There is tippet and leaders and flies and fly tying material and boat bags and then the actual boats… kayaks, SUPs, skiffs. Nippers, pliers, tippet holders, coolers… so much gear to have so much fun. The gear is half the fun (OK, maybe 10%, but still, you need this stuff to get out there and get after it.)

OTHER Stuff:

Flyfishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown
Fly Fishing Belize by Jim Klug
Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Elusive Fish by Chip Dombrowski
GT: A Flyfisher’s Guide by Peter McLeod
Fly-Fishing the Yucatan by Rod Hamilton (and others)
Yeti Tundra cooler
Fishpond Thunderhead Duffle
Skinny Water Culture Tarponist t-shirt
Estrada Art Tarpon Slime t-shirt
Body Glide (seriously)


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

04
Dec 14

Nothing left to get

At a certain point, you get all the gear you really are going to need. I’m approaching 100% geared up status. Trying to give my wife gift idea for Christmas is getting harder. I’m starting to fill out on the stuff that is on the margins… the boat bag, the line scale, the pants and shirts and sun protection. I’m squared away on rods and reels and lines. I’m fairly set and could go out to the garage and grab the right gear to head 8/10 places in the world to go fishing.

The quiver for Spring Break 2013

The quiver for Spring Break 2013

It can only mean one thing.

I’m damn lucky.

What’s on your wishlist for Christmas?

 

(PS – I do think there might be a new pair of Costas under the tree though, as soon as we get the tree)

(PPS – Feb. 7-14, Water Cay Hosted Trip, with MOI as your host. Sounds good, no?)


27
Mar 13

New toys

When I head to the Bahamas I’ll have a few new things to play around with. Several of these things you might be interested in.

First, I’ll be trying out the new RIO Bonefish Quickshooter sent by the good folks at RIO. The normal RIO bonefish line is overweighted .25 line weights, but the quickshooter is .5. The idea is when you are wading you often have shots much closer as you don’t see the fish until they are in that 40′ range. If you have one of those super fast rods, you might not be able to really load the rod well at short ranges. A slightly heavier line will do this better. This is basically the Redfish line in bonefish colors. Looking forward to putting that on the Abel Super 7/8n.

The RIO Quickshooter

The RIO Quickshooter

Next up… did you know you can wear other sunglasses besides Costa?  You can. I’ll be sporting a pair of Revo shades sent by the company for my feedback, love and affection. So far I can tell you they are great for driving to work and back. I’ll let you know how they stand up to the elements/salt.

Revo shades on our handsome model.

Revo shades on our handsome model.

Lastly… are you a member of the GoPro revolution?  I’m not. However, I did pick up a ContourROAM on the cheap from Amazon. The thing is supposed to be waterproof and does many of those GoPro-ish things. I have no idea what I’m doing with this thing, but it should keep me from missing when my dad hooks the guide, which I expect to happen at least twice.

This “action camera” was only $100… making it half the cost of the lowest level of GoPro and 1/4th the cost of the top-of-the-line GoPro. I like cheap and I look forward to seeing just how much I can underutilized this camera.

I'll, like, take some video, maybe?

I’ll, like, take some video, maybe?

I also have some Redington clothes along to test, but I’m too lazy to go put them on for you just for this post, so you’ll have to see me wearing them in pictures from the Bahamas. One pair of pants is a good rival for my beloved Patagonia Guidewater pants… in fact, at a distance you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart and wearing them you’d be challenged to feel the difference (I like them).  I have a couple of new rain jackets for the trip and I hope I don’t need them.

 


04
Sep 12

Spending my own money

I had a birthday recently. I’m still waiting for your gifts to arrive, any tracking numbers to share?

Anyway, I had some gift certs to that little on-line marketplace called Amazon. I get a lot of gear on loan for trips, so I thought it might be interesting to know what I spend my own money on, and why.

The newest member of the family

First, I would normally try to buy from a shop. Getting the Amazon gift certs ruled that out. There are some shops around here, but they don’t sell through Amazon, so that was not where I was going to drop my money.  I had $300 to spend and on Amazon there really weren’t that many choices for saltwater appropriate reels.

My options were limited. The reel options were Hatch, Galvan, Ross, Hardy and Lamson, for the most part.  When you look at the right size at the right price, the pool was reduced further.  Would I like a Hatch or an F1 from Ross or a Nautilus?  Yes.  Would I have bought one of those if they were $300?  Yes. I would also buy a Tibor if it was $300, which they just aren’t.  So, confined by price, I looked for value.

I have to say that I know Aaron Adams and Davin Ebanks haves been fans of Lamsons and that did come into play.

I also put a Lamson through reel testing and it passed with flying colors.

It feels a bit like a modern consumer tale. It was vital I was not restricted by where or how I could buy the product.  Additionally, I was swayed much more by what I saw through my social network and through non-aligned social media than I was swayed by commercials, ads or any of the industry hype I have a habit of drinking like so much Kool-Aid.

So, that’s the story of my new Lamson Velocity 3.5. This reel is intended to take the place of my TFO 375, which has frozen up, corroded from saltwater exposure and is no longer fit for service. This will be my 7-8 weight bonefishing reel of choice (within my stable of options), until and unless it makes me regret that decision.


28
Aug 12

Full Speed Ahead, Saracione Islamorada Reel

At the show I ran into Andrew Bennett, owner of Deneki Outdoors. He told me about a reel maker in a back corner with some really interesting, old-school reels.  He was into them. He also mentioned the prices, $1,200. I saw the booth, but knowing the price acted like some sort of BOTB Force-field.

Deneki put up a post about the reel. It’s a beautiful thing.

Classic

It does have a certain nautical look to me. Where have I seen this before?

Hmmm… looks familiar.

What do you guys think?  Would you want one of those Saracione reels?  They are probably pretty amazing to handle, maybe a tad heavier than I’d want to fish with and certainly more expensive than I’m likely to ever plop down for (excluding inflation).

Would you buy one?


20
Aug 12

Redington FTW

At the IFTD show there were a lot of awards handed out. There was one that was missing… best brand themed adult beverage… the winner? Redington pretty much killed it with the Rogue brew.

Well played, and yummy.

They actually had gear to show too and Redington continues to do well at that “value” end of the market.

It seems redundant to tell you this is the Redington booth.

Next went over to Sage and saw some of their new gear. They have a few rods coming into the mid-price point that I think are likely interesting and then they have some reels.  They have one reel that is coming out into that top-price-point and it looks good (as pretty much most reels at this price point do).

Looking good.

I’ll share more of what I saw there at the show over the coming days.

In the meantime, let me talk a little conservation. Odds are fair to good you are familiar with the No on Pebble Mine thing. There are some matching funds available right now, making this a very, very good time to support the efforts of TU to protect Bristol Bay and alllll those fish.

 

 


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.


17
Apr 12

What I got right about gear for Cuba

While I got a few things wrong, I did make some good decisions and had some of the right stuff with me.

Flies:

  • Having some of the super hair chartreuse flies for cudas was a really good call.
  • I had enough Gotchas in different sizes that I could have fished for bones for another three weeks.
  • The tarpon bunnies were good patterns and if I had them in a 3/0 I would likely have been feeding tarpon with them.

Leaders:

  • The leaders I tied were effective and worked for bonefish and for tarpon.  The 80 pound shock tippet was perfect on even the big fish and the bimini twists I tied didn’t fail.  I didn’t have a single leader fail or a single knot fail.

Reels:

  • The reels I primarily used were the Ross F1 for the 8 wt, the Orvis Mirage for the 10 wt and the Redington Delta for the 11. I had along a Ross CLA and a Ross Momentum, but they had on specific lines that didn’t get selected by the guides.

Lines:

  • The textured saltwater line for the 8 was a great line.
  • The Orvis line was different… it sounded like a textured line and it cast very well.
  • I cast a Rio clear sink tip for the 11 and the guides liked it, preferring it to the full floating line each time.

Rods:

  • Both of the 8 weights were lovely rods. The Sage One is light and responsive and did all I asked of it. The prototype was just as lovely and I’d be glad to have either one as my go-to 8.
  • The 10, the Orvis Helios was a great rod. I’ve had that one before and I really like it.  It might have been a little heavy for Permit, but it would have worked well for that and it was a good rod to have rigged for barracuda.
  • The 11 Redington… it was heavy, but when it came time to do the business it got it done. That feels like a pretty important thing to judge by.

Something right got me that fish.