Aug 12

TNT from T&T and an old Sage RPL

When I head to Belize for the honeymoon I’ll have a few rods along. One of those rods will be the new TNT from Thomas & Thomas. I wanted to see how the rod stacked up against one of the oldies-but-goodies, the Sage RPL. So, I headed out to the park with a camera and did a little casting.

The TNT and the RPL, New meets Old.


First up was the RPL.

I was actually a bit surprised at how nice this rod cast. I was hitting 50′ pretty well and into a little wind. The rod didn’t feel as fast as I remember it being.  It is a two piece rod so it won’t be making any salty journeys with me, but it is a solid rod and a good choice for carp and Lower Sacramento trout fishing, maybe even some steelhead if I ever find the time to chase the steel again.

Next up was the TNT.

This was a pretty nice rod. I liked it. I probably had another 5′ of control and maybe 15% more accuracy.

In short, I like the rod. It is a modern, saltwater rod in the same vein as the other top rods out in the market. If you like Thomas & Thomas, I’d look at this rod. My go-to 5 wt. is actually an old T&T Emerger (my second choice 5 is actually an old Sage RPL+, so it is funny that I got to do this comparison of 7 wt. rods).

A 7 wt. is a legit rod selection for bonefish, especially Belize Bones.  I tend to think of an 8 as the ideal, but I forget that my first bonefish was caught on a 7 and it was fun. I’m looking forward to chasing bones with this rod. Sadly, I’ll have to return it when done.


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.



Jul 12

Rods that travel

Now, I’ve come up with my own work around to get my rods from Point A (bonefishless place) to Point B (bonefishful place). It is very practical, but not very attractive.  It involves a soccer sock and some REI straps.

How I roll.

Well, looks like Sage has just come out with a new traveling rod case.  Hmmmmmm….

I think I just lost the style war.

Watch for them to show up at Sage.

PS – I see the word “bookmarks” at the top of the page when published, but not on the edit screen. I have no idea what that is there for.

Apr 12

Packing is Done – The Reels are Rigged

What is going to get packed is packed. The rest of the time before I take off is really just moving from one place to another. The trip is more or less set in motion.

The last reels arrived a couple days ago and yesterday was supposed to be the day that I got backing put on all those reels.  Then… call from my daughter’s school that she was sick. So, I scavenged. I managed to pull backing off a few of the reels staying home and am now fully set.  Here’s the reel list…

For the 8’s (Sage One, Mystery Prototype)

  • Orvis Mirage
  • Ross F1

For the 10 (Orvis Helios)

  • Ross Momentum
  • Ross CLA
  • Orvis Mirage

For the 11 (Redington Predator)

  • Redington Delta

The lines are a mix of Orvis, Rio and SA lines and for the tarpon rods (the 10 and 11) I have both floating and either clear int. sink tips or full clear int. sinks as well.

I’m feeling fairly well equipped. In fact, I may be over-equipped and I’ll have to consciously switch reels and rods from time to time to make sure I get some time with different rigs.

Four rods. Six reels. Seven spools/seven lines.

I’ll be carrying on the rods and the reels and I’ll be hoping the rest of my stuff makes it there.

Tomorrow morning I get on a flight for the first leg of the journey.  I’ll meet up with the others down in Mexico tomorrow night and from there, the adventure begins.

Aug 11

The Thousand Bonefish of Nassim, an Interview

Over at the Dan Blanton message board I’ve seen frequent posts from Nassim Joaquin, many having to do with my favorite finned fiend, the bonefish.  So, it was with great interest that I read about Nassim catching his 1,000th bonefish.  One thousand.  That’s such a big number, so many fish, so many days on the water, so many flies tied, so many miles flown. I had to get Nassim to answer a few questions and when I asked, he obliged.

That’s one of those things about fly fishing.  People are generally pretty free with answers and willing to help.  Makes you wish the rest of the world fly fished so we could all get along… however, if the whole world fly fished all the good spots would be taken and we’d all get cranky and probably go to war over trout streams and bonefish flats instead of oil.  So, maybe it is best things are how they are.

Here’s my interview with Nassim.  Before I get started, I have to say a word about counting fish.  Some people think counting your fish somehow cheapens the experience.  I am not one of those people.  I count.  I don’t keep track of how many fish I’ve caught total, but my dad does and he’s a pretty fantastic person.  Some folks just count.  Others don’t.  It doesn’t make you any better or worse of a person or angler, so if you think that… well… it takes all kinds, as they say (for example, some people like ellipses).

1,000 bones. I can hardly imagine.

Nassim, you’ve just landed your 1,000th bonefish. Tell me about that fish.

I should have caught that fish in 2010 but I finally caught it in year 2011. But I was fishing for other fishes in 2010 and took way longer to reach the 1,000 mark. It took me about 10 years since I caught my first bonefish in Paraiso, Ascension Bay with the long gone Pez Maya Lodge guide Enrique “El Tigre” to my last fish in Cozumel Island, with my longtime guide Gaspar Chulim.

I’m a fish counter, but generally just on the day, not a cumulative tally. How did you actually record all those fish? What was your best day? How long did it take?

I started counting my first catches back in 1995 when I was starting to flyfish in saltwater. Then I got a personal notebook with notes and decide to count all my: bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook and billfish. Thats it. Plus I also have a record of how many flyrod species I have caught. Just flyfishing in Weipa, Australia I caught 25 different species in 2 days with the fly. I also got the information of where I caught all that fish and if it was from a boat or by wading. Finally I also keep track of any of my bonefish over 8 pounds. Plus my Grand Slams and Super Grand Slams (but I got record of those at the IGFA Grand Slam Club anyway). And my 3 IGFA world records for mutton snappers and goliath grouper. It may seem like a lot of work but it is not really, when I clean my flies and tackle with freshwater after a fishing day I take a few minutes to write down the information of the days catch. That is how I keep those numbers going over a decade. I dont think I could quit right now but maybe I will someday.

My best day was in Cuba at the Gardens of the Queen with 30 fish caught in a day by myself. In Xcalak, Mexico I also caught 20 and my partner 12 so we had a 32 day fish fishing together.

After a thousand bones, I’d imagine they start to blend together. Are there one or two that really stand out?

In my opinion there is nothing like my first catch. That is the one I cherish the most. My casting was not good back them, my eyes were not used to find fish and my stripping was no good either and I did strugle to get that fish and I finally did. That one stands out. I guess it is like a virginity matter, you never forget the very first one….Also the biggest, a 10 pound bonefish in Cozumel. A mark that I am always trying to beat. I would love to get a 12 pounder sometime in my lifetime.

 How many bonefish locations have you fished over those years?

For bonefish? Not that many international ones. Just Cuba and Belize. But In Mexico I have caught them all over the East Yucatan from way northeast in Isla Blanca, Cozumel, Boca Paila, Ascension Bay, Espiritu Santo Bay and way southeast to Chetumal Bay…I am only missing one at Chinchorro Bank.

What’s your favorite bonefish rod/reel?

I like to fish Sage rods. I like the old RPLX ones. But I am trying to move to the new models. I want to try that new One rod. As for reels I always fish Tibor’s. The Freestone that is no longer in the market was perfect for the small bones of the Yucatan. I still got 3 of those in blue and gold color. I collect reels so I usually fish old models from time to time. I fished my Seamaster “Baby Doll” some months ago and it was fantastic. Perfect for my home waters in Cozumel were I have caught most of my fish and the average bone is about 3.5 pounds. But it is a reel I mostly keep at home at display. I belive that an 8 Wt rod with a fast action is the best bonefish rod.

 If someone wanted to hit 1,000 bones, what advice would you give them?

Go to places were you can catch numbers of fish no matter if those are small fish in average. Numbers of fish will make you a better angler and do not fish for them at muds. You will not learn bonefishing by fishing at muds. You got to find shallow water fish or tailing fish in cristal clear waters the better; in places like the Yucatan, Chrismas Island, Bahamas…Los Roques… Mostly try to avoid places with realy big fish like Florida or New Caledonia when you are starting. The size is perfect but it would be very dificult there to have a 20+ fish day there. And fish as much time and as often as you can. I took a long time for me to reach that mark but because I fish for billfish a lot and I love permit fishing too. You know those species will take you away from the bones numbers, but I dont regret it. Now that I got my 1,000 bonefish I can focus on my permit fishing I want to follow Del Brown’s footsteps so it is a long way to get there…. If ever.

Thanks Nassim and congrats on 1,000 bones.

Totally lifted this pic from a Mexican fly fishing site. Click on the pic to go there.

Aug 11

Best New Fly Rod – IFTD

Well, they say the One from Sage is the “Best New Fly Rod.”  Of course, one takes these sorts of pronouncements with a grain of salt.  The “Best New” is probably not as good, or at least just as good, as a fair number of the “Best Old Fly Rods.”

Still, that’s what they’ve anointed it.  Here’s a little video about the rod.

It isn’t clear to me if there is a saltwater version of this rod.  All the shots are of freshwater, which makes me think this might not be salt-friendly, but they I saw some reference to “all-water,” which makes me think it is.  They do have the Xi3, which is pretty badass already.

It does come in an 8 (and 9-10) and runs about $740.


Apr 11

Rent the Rod?

This business appears not to be in operation anymore. I can understand why. Decent idea on paper, but I’d think it would be hard to make it work.


I saw a little link on The Trout Underground to a new business that is renting rods and reels.  This is one of those things that is hard to see how it plays out.  It could be that someone rents an Xi3 and takes a trip to Belize and realizes that he/she needs to do this every year and they go back and buy that rod.  It could be that the angler who has a once in a lifetime trip to the Bahamas rents that Xi3 and never fishes the salt again.  Does the “industry” come out ahead or does it lose out?  I don’t know.  My crystal ball is in the shop at the moment… can’t wait to get that thing back!

You can rent a Sage 6000 series reel for $15.  That reel is normally $600-$700.  That sounds really reasonable as the rental is for a week.

You can rent a Sage Xi3 for $100 for a week.  The rod normally $725 (for the 8 weight).  That sounds a bit high, really.

Xi3 – a great stick.

In saltwater the rod is kind of important, but the reel… that’s where your trip falls apart really, really fast if things go wrong and there are way more things that can go wrong with a reel than there are with the rod (me thinks).  Am I off base on this?

For the consumer, it offers you another choice… you can rent a rig for a week and see how you like it (so long as that rig is either a Sage or TFO rod and one of two Sage model reels).  You could take that trip without dropping $1,400 for the reel and the rod… what you’d pay for that Sage rod/reel combo.

If it means fewer sales at your local fly shop… well… that’s bad.  Enough fly shops are shutting their doors these days.  Each local fly shop is a gem and each time one closes, we are poorer for it, as anglers.

Nov 10

Dark Blue Beauties

The Fed Ex guy kept it late, which made it interesting.  In the end, he made it here about 6:45 PM.  Sure, I don’t leave for Belize for another 6 days, but I really wanted the weekend to do a little casting and it looks like that is going to happen.  The box that arrived this evening was from Bainbridge Island, WA and if you are a fly fisherman that means Sage.  Two brand new Xi3‘s were in the box, a 7 and a 10.  I was a little surprised that the rods were brand new.  These are loaners, after all… I have to send the things back after the trip, so I figured I’d get a rod that had been loaned in the past.  Not so… these were spanking new with that new-rod smell… well… there really wasn’t a smell, but ya know what I mean.

Two beautiful sage sticks

In other news, I’ll actually be bringing along a third rod to demo… this rod will be the Orvis Helios in an 8 weight.  I just did an interview with Steve Hemkens at Orvis for the Blog and he offered to loan me some gear.  Having the 7 and 10 slots filled, I figured it would be better to go with an 8, instead of putting the Helios and Xi3 into some contrived duel.  I am looking forward to doing some test driving in the coming days and putting them through the paces in Belize.

I’m just about done tying flies for the trip… I added another 8 or so flies today to the two crammed bonefish/permit boxes and am at about 148 flies now.  My guess would be I’d use 10.  So… over provisioned a tad, both on the fly front and probably on rods.  Both are good problems to have.

Apr 10

Rods, Rods and More Rods

When getting ready to move I had to try and reign in the chaos that had spread from from one or two bins in the garage to several bins of fly fishing gear, each exploding and overflowing all over a large shelf.   Something clearly had to be done.

In those bins I found… a surprising number of my daughter’s socks, a few beer bottle caps, twigs/sand/dirt, lots of bits of tippet, a few salvageable flies,  a couple of lines I forgot I had (a surplus 5 wt. clear intermediate sink and a 9 wt. sink tip), a few of the indicators I like to put on my line (off the water) when tight-line nymphing for trout, a couple of broken reels and mismatched heavy socks and fingerless gloves.

Order is restored.  My wife will be happy.  I’ll be able to find the gear I’m looking for again and the movers didn’t break anything.

It is clear from a rod perspective, I am well covered from most anything from #2 to #9… included here… a #2, #3/4, #4, #4, #5, #5, #5, #7, #7, #8, #8/9, #9.   Yes… that’s 12 rods (although, technically, the #2 is my three year old daughter’s.  Cheap is clearly the theme… 5 of these rods are TFO’s.  One is an Elkhorn.  One is a T&T (my favorite 5 wt.). One is a custom rod  raffled off for the Shasta Fly Fishers.  One is an Albright. On the pricey side, one is an R.L. Winston and two are Sage.

It is fun to look at all those rods and think back to the special memories I’ve had with each. The future seems somehow brighter when you know you have the right tools for the work ahead.

Jan 10

Want a Hell's Bay Skiff for $100?

Hell’s Bay makes some good looking boats.  I’m sure they are impressive.  What if you could get a Waterman (a $33,000 boat) for $100?  That would be kind of kick ass, no?

Well… you can… if you are the lucky winner of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s Sweepstakes.  Basically, if you are a first-time member and join at the $100 level, you get put in the drawing.  If you are a renewing member and come in at $250 or higher, you are in the drawing.

In addition to the big prize, there are a monthly drawings for gear from companies like Sage, Orvis, Tibor, Redington, Penn and Temple Fork Outfitters.

So… join, now.  That’s some mighty good shwag and if you are reading this, BTT is probably an organization that should be getting your support.