- Orvis Pack & Travel Sonic Seam Waders
- Hardy Perfect Reel
- Smith Interlock Sunglasses
- ExOfficio Give-N-Go Underwear
- The Patagonia Pack Vest
- HMH Standard Vise
- By: Joe Healy
- , Ted Leeson
- and Darrel Martin
As I pulled up to the gate at Nighthawk, a riverside sanctuary I stumbled across after a 10-year search for Thompson River property, the pungent odor of sagebrush filled my nostrils-ambrosia to this desert rat. Serenaded by a couple coyotes, I pitched the 40-year-old Eureka Drawtite tent and lit a fire. The cliff across the river, now a gigantic drive-in screen illuminated by the projector moon, erupted as another irrigation-triggered avalanche crashed to the river. And then there was gratifying nothingness. Silence.
Last issue I promised and delivered some good news about the recovery of the West's imperiled trout, though in the case of Paiute cutthroat recovery-aborted for the fourth time by retired macroinvertebrate researcher Nancy Erman and her troupe of loud, aggressive, fish-stupid chemophobes-you had to look hard for it. Herewith, good news that- once you get past some discouraging elements-is more obvious.
"There are high achievers within the rodmaking community today that deserve to be recognized for their hard work," says Chet Croco, owner of Bellinger rod-building products, "and to receive the high praise and esteem of their colleagues while they are among us. All too often the award is deserved but the recognition comes too late. So I made up an award called the A.P. Bellinger award…and when (Al Bellinger) came by to visit one day I brought the guys over and announced to Al that they were being presented with the first ever A.P. Bellinger Award…for demonstrating through the rod-maker's craft that quality and integrity never go out of style."
I've been using black flies in salt water for so long I really don't remember the first time I learned about them-probably more than 40 years ago. Today, every couple of trips to the brackish-water world, I find a situation that, whether because of low light levels or murky water, it's best to cast a black fly.
How to apply maximum pressure but not break my rod? You've really asked two questions, because rod breakage is rarely related to properly applying maximum pressure to the fish if you're using the proper tackle properly. So let's look at rod breakage first. There are really only two ways most fly rods are broken while fighting a fish. The most common is "high sticking," where the angler holds the rod at too high an angle, forcing it to bend too sharply at its weakest point-the tip.
I had one of the best steak dinners of my life on the outskirts of Valentine, Nebraska. It was at a family restaurant called The Bunkhouse, one of those places designed to feed the locals as well as snag passing tourists in season with the usual corny western motif and a “Little Cowpoke Special” on the kid’s menu. There were a few paved parking spaces out front, but my friend Ed and I were towing a bass boat, so we drove around back to the enormous dirt lot reserved for campers and 18-wheelers. A hot wind was blowing out of the east across a pasture and a truck stop and there was dust in the air along with the combined aromas of cow flop and diesel.
The percentage of new products that enjoy even a brief success is small, very small. Fewer still endure to reach iconic status. Anyone over the age of five or six knows that the hourglass-shape soda bottle is a “Coke bottle.” And virtually every fly fisherman knows that the peach-colored line seen so often on a trout stream is a Cortland 444.
The first steelhead fly that fell from the tying vise into my 10-year-old palm was a standard Skunk tied on a 2X heavy Mustad, down-turned eye, sproat, size 4 hook. The tail was an irregular clump of webby red neck hackle fibers, tied in too short, like the tail of the green Woolly Worm I'd finished a few minutes before. The body was medium black chenille over-wrapped with oval tinsel, one size too thin, followed by a thick black saddle hackle so spiky that the first four wraps were about four sizes too small; the fifth and sixth wraps grew progressively two sizes too big. The tips of those last wraps lay back beyond the ragged red tail when I preened them to clear a space for the wing.
Recently returned from the Gaula in Norway, Yvon Chouinard bucked the trend of using the giant tube flies and enjoyed great Atlantic salmon success with small Eastern Canadian patterns. "We landed some fine 20-pounders and turned them all loose," he reported, despite the tendency in many countries to keep large Atlantic salmon.
The laughter, resonant with enthusiasm, is penetrating... even from across the river. The man is having a good time but who doesn't when they're catching fish? It's obvious from a glance at this behavior that size is unimportant: Nine-inchers elicit the same commotion as do fish twice that length. These trout are special in another way. They're rising in a run beside an island in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), where more than 30 years ago the man taught his own son and daughter to fish with a fly rod and a tiny piece of worm.
I Scan the edge of a local farm pond and find what I'm looking for-a small cedar shrub, the victim of erosion, leaning into the water. If I place my popper just right, I'll quickly discover if anyone is home. Out goes the Walt's Popper, a tan-bellied frog imitation, beneath the low branches of that bush…and a hungry largemouth responds. That bass is the finale of a fine evening and its capture represents a paramount moment in my angling education: if I hadn't realized what was staring me in the face, I might have overlooked that pond, which practically rested in my backyard. You see, my church owns the pond. I'd seen it many times before, but never with angling eyes - an overlooked bass fishery in plain sight.
Only 60 years ago, West Coast steelhead streams churned with silver-plated natives. Waves of naturally reared steelies ascended their natal rivers, hellbent on reaching the same gravel beds from which they had emerged four or five years before. A modern steelheader need only read the accounts of such early anglers as Roderick Haig-Brown and Enos Bradner to appreciate how truly aggressive and plentiful these fish were.
- Attach the white thread and tie in a small clump of pearlescent Krystal Flash. Lash the clump to the end of the hook shank and bring the thread forward to the starting point. Taper the tailing tips. Tie in the pearlescent Body Braid above the thread starting point, and lash it to the top of the hook, to the start of the hook bend. Bring the thread forward and wind the Body Braid forward to create a slight taper to the rear of the body. Tie down and trim off the excess.
- Orvis Pack & Travel Sonic Seam Waders
- Winston Boron Rods
- Tibor Spey Reel
- NRS GigBob Pontoon Boat
- Salmo Saxatilis Rods
Often, it’s not only how well a product stands up in the midst of battle but, more important, how well the company stands behind their product. My trusty Steelhead Large Arbor Orvis Mach IV is only a few years old, but has seen many trying days on Michigan’s rivers. This past spring I had an issue onstream that “felt” like the reel was tight. I was mid-stream and decided to take a closer look, breaking a cardinal rule, and something fell out of my reel. I sent the reel to Orvis with a check for $40. A new clutch and cover and, within a week, I had the reel back with a refund check for $30. The level of service and customer satisfaction far surpass how many clams I shelled out for a quality reel. Thank you Orvis for getting me back in the season in time to chase more chrome.