Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wax On -- Fine. Wax Off? Maybe Not.

At left, some Bailey's Fly Tyer's Wax.

Yes, that's a small KaBar and it was just sitting on my desk so I used it for a size reference. I wear one when I go trout camping and the library shows a little wear from a hard-run at late-season trout.

There's a story behind this but let me show another picture.

Here's the puck of wax. I removed a piece on the left -- too much -- for a Monday night session here at the Beer Grotto.

I read about the Bailey's Wax--probably named for Dan Bailey-- in an article I found in the magazine FlyFishing & FlyTying as written by Magnus Angus. (Article Here). Mr. Angus does a great job on his review of the product and I encourage you to have a look.

However, you do need to read all of the words. I might not have done that.

This Bailey's stuff is a dubbing wax. Great - I need it for dubbing and if it has sufficient tack (it does) I can use it for my hand-tied whip finishes and never smell the Hard As Nails again on a Sunday morning. (Enough of that you in the peanut gallery).

I sort of ignored the wise words of Mr. Angus about using spirits to remove the stuff from his fingers. Missed that part entirely much to my peril.

The stuff melts if you stick it on your paw. It softens. It also spreads a bit.

Imagine pine tree pitch with a bad attitude from a Christmas tree gathering expedition in your prospective father-in-law's new Mercedes which he has graciously loaned you for the day to take his daughter to get the seasonal pagan symbol.

Oh yea, the stuff went everywhere.

Now, dubbing with the stuff was amazing. I'm a dubbing loop fellow and I've never had such wonderful bottle-brush dubbing spins as when I used a bit to help my dubbing adhere in the early twists (I don't use a weighted little spinner).  There is no comparison between low-tack stick wax and this Bailey's stuff.

Though trying my new wax with a generous dollop--read "too bloody much"-- on my left index finger looked very cool, it rapidly emerged that I might have done something unwise.

A bit of loose dubbing stuck to my finger and I thought "no problem." Then a bit of trimmed deer hair stuck to my paw as I was tying up some Warden's Worry bucktail streamers and had some trimmings on the table.

Then the  hen feathers -- red -- stuck to my fingers as I was using a few barbs at a time to make the tail per the tying example of Joseph Bates in his Streamers & Bucktails. The increasing tackiness of most of my fingers and some of my tools was becoming a problem.

Then my beverage suck to my fingers.

No, not the wax hand fingers. The glass stuck to my other fingers on the hand which didn't even have the wax globbet clinging to it.

Hmm. Time to clean up.

Soap? This stuff laughs at soap. Laughs.

Luckily I was in a bar and there were some "counter grade" spirits readily at hand, as it were.

So, a little goes a long way. Wax that is. I used enough for something like ten tying sessions on my first try.

Advice: a small flake one-half the size of a dime shaved, kneaded, and adhered to a finger  and not a finger joint would be plenty for at least a dozen fully dubbed fly bodies in size six or eight.

The package is wonderful: that's a screw cap aluminum container and the wax is packaged in parchment within.

The wax is completely non-tacky to start. Knead it for ten seconds and place it on the surface of one medium sized bear paw and ... aggressive pine tar resin.

Works great to dub, though. Works great.

It's a tool. Most tools require a bit of knowledge to work well. Bailey's wax falls in that category.

I bought mine from a great guy named Christopher Stewart at Tenkara Bum ((Tenkarabum.com). Awesome service.

I like the stuff. I like what it did for my dubbed bodies.

I still had a bit on the back of my left forefinger this morning sort of matted into the hair; but, I burned it off. Clean now.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Wax

New wax came today. I'm going to use it this weekend on some dubbed-bodied bucktails. I'll let you know.

Am I the only one who gets excited over the small inexpensive part of our sport?


Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Season Turns

At left, a public domain image as hosted on wikicommons. From a 1920's text by Louis Rhead.

I've a fly fishing friend leaving shortly for Seattle.

We've only been out together for a good dozen times.  We've fished a number of Michigan's great streams starting with a "fish camp" weekend at the Red Cabin on the Pere Marquette in  2010.

I don't expect him back to fish Michigan again. Work commitments, travel, and all the usual suspects including a reticence to leave a wife at home with little alternative entertainment. He travels enough for work that he hates "just leaving" as so many of us will do casually. I myself am doing good to come home at anytime.

His departure coincides with the end of season and there we have it.

I am however excited for 2018. I've got Joseph Bates' book on streamers and am taking it to heart.

I fish Michigan. I need to master some streamer techniques.

Couldn't hurt the fish count, either.

I ate sausage and apples and drank Bell's Octoberfest beer last night. I'm doing fine.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Streamer Dreamer, Return of Gear Porn

Thinking of going after those winter pigs?  Thinking of all those problems you had this year getting into position against banks, dead-fall, swift water?

Thinking trout spey?

Look. I know trout spey is the "hot" business. I know it is our fly fishing equivalent of chasing fireflies on a summer evening when you are six. I know technology does not solve problems.


I have a Winston Boron IIIx 4wt. I have Wulff triangle taper lines (roll cast machines). I use Wotton SLF dubing.

Ok, maybe technology can contribute to the on-the-water experience. It isn't a substitute for competence but then, my mechanic uses more than a pair of vise grips and a hammer most days.

OPST: Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics.

OPST home.

These guys have micro-heads that seem to work for trout guys. Yea, I know.

"Heads" for "trout guys."

When did those words start coming together in a sentence?

I've spent time here these past four years improving my casting. I started using single-handed Spey techniques and found joy. Water I could access grew. Success on the water grew. Frequently, I could fish where I wanted instead of where the river conditions dictated.

I fish Michigan brush-piles -- er, rivers -- and not Colorado meadow streams.

Fast water. Deep water. Runs where I cannot get good footing (slippery clay). High banks. High banks with leaning brushy vegetation. These are all still problems.

I do think there is something that can help: OPST micro-skagit heads.

I'm going to try them. I'll let you know.

I'm buying several heads. I'll fish them on my fours (epoxy+boron and fiberglass), my fives (graphite, glass, and Hardy's epoxy and silica), and a big five/six (glass).  I won't use it on my cane. My collection I small (2) and I've protective of these bits of grass.

I do use a three frequently; but, I don't really need to change anything for the water on which I cast the three. It's fine as it is. YMMV.

I'll report. The super short head is attractive. 2018 might be a year of the swing -- streamers and soft-hackle teams. Still playing with that. Never too early to get a jump on next year.

I need a new seven.

I have two Sage sevens and both are two-piece rods -- wait, gave one away [ Trident ] and ... Look, I don't like graphite in two-piece. Seems hideously impractical. It's graphite, for dog's sake. It isn't anything like cane. Cut. It. Up.

Questions? I found a fellow to help answer some of them. Oliver Sutro seems to cover the basics quite nicely.

Listen for yourself.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Monday Night Flies

My fall began on the first of October as it did with so many of you. Our Dexter fly tying group started meeting here at the Beer Grotto. Scene at left: materials, Bell's Best Brown Ale.

Very autumn.

My local fly shop The Painted Trout successfully completed their move to a new shop on Dexter-Ann Arbor road. I'm glad for that because they're now next door to the Beer Grotto and thirty steps from both the coffee shop (Joe and Rosie's) and Dairy Queen.

It was a great night to catch-up on the summer's fish tales.

Here are Brian, Lauren, and Jim looking at last week's photos of Brian's steelhead trip. He went fishing with Jeff Liskay on the Dean River in British Columbia.

Brian is an excellent spey caster. Ties large classic feather-wing flies, too. Nothing like my dumpy little beasts.

Lauren is an owner with Dirk of The Painted Trout.

Jim is a fine artist and a soft hackle fellow addicted to brookies (like me) and -- gasp -- the mop fly. Anyone have a tan colored mop head?

Above,  a Jingler tied after a Borcher's Special. Turkey body donated by one of my jakes. It is a poor feather a little too stiff. Still, it covers the tiny bit of closed cell foam lashed to the spine of the hook.

I had a little trouble detecting strikes when fishing with too much line out this past spring. I hate the indicator but will relent on a dry-dropper set-up.

One last bit: I am considering a declaration that 2018 is the year of the brook trout. Too often we measure success by size. A six-inch brook tout has all he size we need. I'm thinking about it.

The 1990's constituted the Al Franken decade. Maybe 2017 should be the International Year of the Brook Trout.

I might have to approach some of the fishing press I've met.

Monday night fly tying.  Fall. Brook trout.

It is good to be with old friends.

Have a brown ale.