the Transformer Midge

hot off of Davie McPhail‘s video editor is one the most interesting fly design concepts i’ve seen in a looooong time and the Transformer monicker sets the theme.

tied as is and with all its strong and fine trigger points, this fly looks like it’ll do the trick just about anywhere whether it be on flowing or still waters anytime a floating or in-the-surface-film or sub-surface aquatic or terrestrial fly is called for.
– need something that looks more caddisy ? just trim back the extended body with you nippers.
– want a stonefly ? nip off the legs and maybe trim the chenille abdomen.
– small grass-hopper hatch ? trim back the abdomen a little and leave it blunt instead of tapered.
– want it to sit in the film ? trim the bottom part of the hackle with either your nippers or scissors.
– want it just below the surface to fish it Loch-Style ? rub it underwater with your fingers till it’s waterlogged and it’ll break the surface tension right away.
– sound good ? no, great  !

since i exclusively use factory barbless hooks, i’m certain a wide gape curved-shank ‘scud’ type hook will work very nicely. different sizes from size 10 to 18 in black, olive and brown should do the trick year ’round.
heck, i’m seeing so much potential in this little bug that i think i’ll tie up a box full of these and fish them exclusively…

here’s the tying tutorial, enjoy !

The differences between Polyleaders and Sink Tips

some really good, simple and easily understandable info that should alleviate any confusions about these two beasties from Peter Charles.

the video says it all but i’ll add a few words on the noteworthy stuff first:
– first and foremost, keep in mind that Polyleaders are a ‘standard leader’ substitute and go on the front of fly lines made for ‘standard leaders’ whereas sink tips and their inherent weight are an integral part of fly lines made specifically for the use of sink tips.
in other words, sink tips are not part of the leader even if they’re commonly used and directly connected to the fly with a short section of tippet.
–  what Peter means by ‘turnover force’ is simply the diameter or weight/mass of the fly line’s end or the tip/main body joining end in the case of lines made for sink tips.
to make that simpler (i hope !), a long and thin end such as found on ‘standard’ fly lines is too thin and light to transfer enough energy to a heavier and thicker tip. add to that a big and/or heavy fly and its easy to understand it won’t turn over at the end of the cast and if it does it will be a big sloppy, unpredictable mess. at best.
– although we’re only showed Airflo products, most other brands will be more or less the same. just be sure to check the tech specs on the package and even better yet, as products info is more detailed there, check out the company’s website to find what suits your needs.
– lastly, most won’t be using aerial casts with sink tip lines as they’re made for Spey casting and shine there but Polyleaders of any density are equally at home with both aerials and Speys.

‘nough said, enjoy !

Fly Casting- The Anchor does Not load the rod.

when talking about rolls or Spey casts how many times have you heard that it does or that we load the rod against the anchor ?
probably many, many, many but all those manys are wrong because the anchor can not load the rod, it’s as simple as that.
let’s see why this beastie doesn’t have any magical properties, its real role and why we use it.

because slomo videos don’t lie and have the wonderful habit of debunking myths here are two eye-opening videos from Aitor Coteron with a few words first to guide you along.
– firstly, take note of the equipment and location used for this demonstration. the rod is an Echo MicroPracticeRod with its synthetic rope and yarn line and the hallway’s floor is like most hallway floors; super-slick.
in other words, the rope/yarn/floor combination offers so little grip that it’s almost irrelevant to bring up any notion of a ‘real’ anchor.
i can’t put any figures to this but let’s just say that an equivalent anchor on water and its subsequent surface tension gripping qualities would be hundreds or maybe thousands of times more than this kit on this floor yet the cast works perfectly.
– as noted in the video, we’ll easily see that the anchor doesn’t move until the rod is already fully loaded and if it isn’t moving it’s because there’s no tension on it: it’s not being pulled. if we where loading the rod against the tension of the anchor, line tension would need to start and continually increase before the rod could start to bend.
line tension is gained and the fly leg only seriously starts to move backwards in the direction of the D-loop once the cast is completed.

now that that’s done and over with and hopefully the notion that the anchor loads the rod is wiped from the slate for good, let’s consider what the anchor actually does when we’re on the water and why we need it.
the anchor’s functions are twofold and interrelate. it prevents the line end/leader/fly combo from swinging back behind the caster where it might snag something or someone while simultaneously allowing a more efficient cast because there’s a loss of line efficiency if part of it is going in the opposite direction of the intended cast.
when performed on water, even if there’s a very slight reversal of the line end going towards the D-loop it’s negligible compared to a slick surface. (we see this on slomo video analysis, it’s pretty hard to see this slight reversal with the naked eye)
just to give another perspective to the smooth-floor casts here’s another sample filmed from the side.

ok, with that said we’re left with the obvious question: what am i loading the rod against if it isn’t the anchor ?
well, that’s easy. it’s exactly the same principle as when we’re doing aerial casts, we’re loading the rod against the combination of the rod itself (its actual physical weight and swing weight ) and the weight of the line outside of the rod tip except for one difference, with rolls and Speys the effective line weight we’ll be using isn’t all of the line outside the rod tip but mostly the rod leg- A and B through C, and to a lesser extend the aerial part of the fly leg- C to D. Spey D-Loop & Anchor
the anchor D to E is disregarded which goes to explain why we don’t take into account the weight of sink tips when we’re figuring out line weights for Skagit or other shooting head line systems.
having most of the weight near the rod tip A to C also explains the typical profile of just about every Spey line there is.

and that’s about it ! if you’re still sceptical about the anchor thing go out and try this slick floor experiment for yourself, it’s a no-brainer. to add to that you could always consider that although not exclusively, many of the IFFF’s casting instructor exams are performed on grass and the roll and Spey tasks are done there as well. i and many of my colleagues have done both the basic instructor and master level without water and have performed just-right rolls and Speys without a ‘proper’ anchor. why so many have passed their exams on grass and continue to ascertain that the anchor loads the rod is beyond me… but that’s another story i guess.

eating fish- some food for thought

an interview with oceanographer Sylvia Earle via TED

i’ll admit it, i’m biased. i love fish and that’s why i don’t eat them.
add to that that since i was a child the slightest taste of some semi-cleverly hiddden-within-the-meal fish flesh would bring an instant gag reflex and copious spewing… the decision for me to not kill or eat them was a no brainer but that’s just me.
in matters like today’s topic it’s always very difficult to convey an important message and plea for action or in this case restraint without sounding like an alarmist or other end-of-the-world nitwit but i believe that Sylvia’s message is clear, honest, simple and straightforward and it all makes sense.

don’t take it as an order but as information and an invitation for thought. here’s a few extracts.

“for most people, eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. Some people believe that the sole purpose of fish is for us to eat them. They are seen as commodities. Yet wild fish, like wild birds, have a place in the natural ecosystem which outweighs their value as food. They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife.”

should_we_stop_eating_fish_

“I’m not saying that you have to stop eating meat, but think about what it takes to make a plant compared to what it takes to make a plant-eater, like a cow, chicken or pig. Even carnivores on land are lower on the food chain than most fish. Think of a tiger or lion or a snow leopard. They eat plant-eating animals. They eat rabbits or deer. So, food chains on land tend to be fairly short. Over 10,000 years, we have come to understand that it’s far more efficient not to eat carnivores. We eat grazers, the ones that we choose to raise, such as cows and pigs. Perversely, many of the animals that are natural grazers, we are force feeding wild fish. We’re taking large quantities of ocean wildlife, grinding them up, and turning them into chicken food or cow food or pig food — or even into fish food.”

click the image for the complete interview.