Sunday, December 30, 2018

2019 - The Year of Streamers

At left, a palmered-style bead-headed rusty streamer in #10 1 xl. I've had good fortune with these palmer-hackle flies because they are most forgiving to tie: in the water the hackle covers all manner of sins.

The bead-head I feel now is a mistake. Weight interferes with the lifelike action. A weighted leader and an unweighted fly on a loop makes a better presentation. Head-weighted flies are "lumps" at current speeds I fish never twitching or oscillating. They plunge.

I loved fishing my soft hackles. In 2018, my most effective technique in Michigan involved the long drift downstream. I used this technique of a slack drift past cutbanks, in front of downed timber, and in the inner edge (towards the middle of the stream) current flows that come from major obstructions.

My drifts didn't drag exactly but they produced enough irregularity that they simulated life in a struggling invertebrate and drew fish out of concealed lies.

Unfortunately, I fished to too few actual fish in 2018. I have only one note on stalking and taking a feeding trout. I fished to habitat. 

SO, 2019: The Streamer.

I like feeling the take. 

I like fishing micro-streamers imitating various baitfish in #5 down to #16 fry. They cast well using single-handed spey techniques.

I like tying the streamers.

I need to learn a little more. I'll look through my copy of McClane's and dig about online for some Carrie Stevens' patterns. I have Sharon Wright's tremendous Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers but lack much in the way of hairwings in my personal library. I expect I'll be investing in the writing of Joseph Bates.

I'm looking for solid mid-size fish this year: just the chunky 12" kind. I'm told from my reading that many fish in this league transition from invertebrate diets to more piscivorous pursuits.  I haven't found such references in the academic studies yet. I'll keep looking. I have reason to doubt.

Nevertheless, in the winter sessions I'll be going through bucktail and spun this and that. I'll make generous use of the over-hackle dressing for heads because I am convinced that the hydrodynamics of a prey animal is considered by a predator. 

I'll have fun and in the spring, I'll flip micro-streamers along the banks and under sweepers seeking the hungry ice-out fish.

I'm really looking forward to tying fuzzy-bodied soft-hackle streamers. I'm getting my body taper technique down pretty well. 

I hope the trout appreciate that effort.

Happy 2019.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Trout Fishing Holiday Gift Guide

 At left, the Christmas Tree from 2016 in New York's Seaport District. Photo from Advicrespon and share here from wikicommons for the price of attribution. Nice tree. Thanks!

The Holiday Trout Fishing Gift Guide.

There's always someone asking about gifts. I've gotten two email inquiries already this year.

(10) A three pack of rubberized electrical tape in varied colors.   Fishing takes place near water. Duct tape is great stuff but the waterproof tape is much much better for the myriad of repair issues encountered in the field. This is a truly thoughtful and practical gift.  Thus, it sucks.

(9) Whiskey.   This crowd is full of day drinkers. They'll have lost their flask so anything in a pint bottle (fits in a fly-fishing vest pocket) will work just fine.

You can get three of  little airline bottles if it is just someone you have to buy a gift for because they gave you one last year and you had nowt for them.

It should be at least a quart bottle if you've borrowed gear from the individual in the last year.

It should be a full sized bottle if there is a paycheck involved in the gift transaction. Just sayin'. Don't cheap-out on the boss.

(8) A Flask.    See number nine. If it is for your brother-in-law and you need to borrow his chainsaw, fill it before you wrap it. If his chainsaw didn't start when you borrowed it last year: empty.

(7) A Cooler.  NOT a Yeti cooler. I'm talking Gott or Igloo or a Coleman. Should be the size to hold a twelve pack because ... well, number eight and nine. We know this crowd.

The twelve pack cooler allows for a generous lunch to be placed on top of the proverbial six-pack and ice.

The little six pack coolers are great but for forcing decision of preserving the convenience store egg salad sandwich in July (and a pack of chips) or the six pack procured at the same establishment. We've covered how that decision making process will go and while the beer will be cool, your fisherman will be hot before the weekend is out -- as in raging fever from a sandwich gone "off."

Why not the Yeti? Because nothing says "break my window, steal my cooler, and head directly towards the great pawn shop in the cloud that is E-Bay" like a Yeti cooler in Bumfuck-MethAddictville, Michigan. You know: where the fish live.

(6) A Gift Certificate to the best Italian restaurant in town. Yes, can be a little pricey (thus number six).

If this is a close fishing buddy, you know he needs the points. Anybody serious enough about fishing with you is someone who has a pretty long line of domestic disappointments loaded on their sleigh. Help a buddy out.

(5) A new fly box and a selection of your  own hand-tied flies ... nominally headed for the reject jar. They should be recognizable as ... something. PTN? Hare's Ear? These are great because screw-ups are usually buggy enough to be more effective than the "good" ones we keep ourselves. You had to start early on these though and if you're a trout fisherman, you didn't.

Also, no flies with problems at the eye-hole unless you want to be considered a different type of "hole" when your buddy is on the water.

Or it's  for the brother-in-law.

(4) Wool Socks. Yes, socks. Good ones. Better than you'd buy yourself..

The big over-the-calf wading socks are great. Heavy boot socks will pass muster. After three hours in steelhead temperature water -- or that near-ice stuff running off the mountain on your excursion trip next year -- you will be praised in the minds of the recipient for having style and class in your gift giving choice. Seriously. Nobody has enough fluffy warm wool socks in this game.

This is a tube sock crowd. Spoil them.

(3) A flannel shirt. Not the Wal-Mart variety discount shirt you'd buy at the local Tractor Supply clearance table. A good one. LL Bean does well. Filson has a couple that are just grand. The Chamois shirts from Cabela's/BassPro are nice too. Basically, a better grade outdoor shirt than you'd ever buy yourself. It'll last a decade. Seriously.

You might need someone to "go in" with you on a boat some time in the future. This is the sort of gift for that guy on the list. Besides, they probably have daughters meaning their flannel shirt collection has been heavily raided. I know.

(2) A waterproof camera. Doesn't have to be the super rugged model. It just has to survive three minutes on the bottom of a normal stream or one lifetime encounter with a softball-sized bit of granite.

Your buddy is using a phone right now. He's going to drop it. Then he's going to bitch endlessly about how he was slimed and the case wasn't worth a shit and you'll be stuck with the drama of trying amateur phone rescue (try finding a bag of rice at the stream-side fly shop ... go ahead, try) instead of more fishing.

Save the day before it happens.

(1) A Fold-and-Go Gas Stove Here Yes, it can be a little fiddly. It upgrades the field lunch from cheese-and-crackers to hot coffee and grilled cheese or chili or  a nice tortellini-and-tomato soup.  Civilization at the truck's tailgate is awfully nice.

My Canadian fly-in buddy and I replaced our shore lunch emergency reserve butane based stove (almost burnt down a swimming pool when tested this year after most of a decade in service) with this new folding beast. Amazing difference.

We needed a large wind screen to make it work well but the control was awesome and it folded into our kitchen bag much better than the large bulky square thing it replaced. Also, gave not one hint of any explosive tendencies unlike the old butane model.


No fish gear?

Would you seriously try to pick out another man's underwear? (Something in low-rise mesh?  -- apologies to Bill Murray).

Then steer clear of buying fishing gear for someone other than yourself. You can't do it as well as as they can and any serious trout fisherman has enough gear already. If you are a spouse reading this, I assure you your husband has hundreds if not thousands of dollars of fishing gear you have no idea even exists. Let it go.

** Special Spousal Selection ** 

Here is a concession to the serious gift giving need of spouses. He wants a hall pass. 

That's it. A card with something like "seven days of unaccountable time spent chasing trout" on a little handmade certificate inside a card would delight the guy.

He doesn't want a trip (well, he might ... but you probably can't pick it unless he said "I want to go with the Drunken Trout Fly Shop to Belize") as much as he wants the ability to go on a trip.

Don't want him gone a week? Give him three "free weekend"  passes. No spousal expectations from Friday at 5 PM until Sunday at 5 PM (mostly sober) is a great consideration.

What he needs is a new set of snow tires or four 3-packs of new boxers.

What he wants is to go fishing in the spring/summer/fall.

He'd really like the hall pass to be for additional fishing time in excess of his usual and customary fishing time. We know that probably won't happen (because you'll think .. "I gave you three weekends, how much more time do you need?") and no husband would expect anything but a time-limitation gift from the spousal unit.

Hey. We've been married a couple times over here at the Amber Liquid hangout. We know how this "creeping domesticity" expectation works. That's how wives become ex-wives, frankly.

SO, shop away ... shop away.

The Christmas card this year sent to the trout guys sums the holiday sentiment this year.

It was a gingerbread man saying " bite me."

Ho Ho Ho. (I'm not talking about your mother, Big Bear. Don't sit on me.)