Hey Ho, Let’s Go ! – Skunking down with Gink & Gasoline

its not like i’m attracted to this type of music but this song came to mind when i was trying to come up with the name for the new and long overdue ‘shoutout’ section here on TLC. over the years i’ve been honoured by quite a few of these shoutouts by some really cool blogs so the not very liked song title comes up after-all as a high energy reminder to get my stuff in gear… and as an invitation for you to Hey Ho, Go ! visit some of these awesome blogs.

first up and one of my all time faves, Gink & Gasoline: this one’s hotter than a hot-rod.
always on the move, whether it’s off somewhere cool fishing or finding great ways to share thoughts on our activity, today’s gem by Louis Cahill stands out from the crowd. no glim, no glamour but a real sense of honesty, despair, steelhead fishing and humour and it’s about our great friend, Le Skunk.

Skunk-G&G Hey Ho, Let's Go!

“The cost of this mania, as anyone who has ever done it knows, is the ever present risk of getting skunked. It’s always right there with you. It’s on the plane next to you. It’s in the boat. It’s low-holing you in every run. It snuggles up next to you in the bed, its awkward boner pressed against your backside. It’s in you dreams. Dreams where suave Disneyesque skunks bring you heart-shaped boxes of goose eggs. From the minute you pick up the long rod with two feet of cork, the skunk is riding shotgun.”

want more ? click on Pepe and Go ! 

A few thoughts on streamer fishing

shared here in its entirety with Mac Brown‘s kind permission.

it’s rant-o’clock ! but i don’t see it as ranting for the sake of ranting, more like a hey, lets kinda forgo the commercialism and sensationalism of contemporary fly tying/fishing for a while and get real about flies, fly design and fly fishing in general.
Mac’s parting words sum up how a lot of us feel quite well, enjoy !  “and remember it is more about your technique than the fly!”…

Bullhead-Sculpin-Gary Borger

“Streamer fishing has been around for a very long time in fly fishing. The workhorse patterns I used mostly as a youngster include the simplistic Black Ghost, Mickey Finn, Wooly Bugger, and Muddler Minnow. There are hundreds of new streamer patterns the past decade with so many new choices of materials. Many of the newer patterns have eye appeal more for the tying community than the fish!
A successful pattern is the one you can tie simply and fast and that is what I think is lacking more today than in years past.

A lot of egos at play in this game of fly fishing to think of lashing a different material to a piece of wire and a new invention that every one tries to get in a catalog for their pride basically. It is actually quite funny when you think about it.
Think about judging your streamer patterns by how many steps does it involve? Can you produce it in a short time period? Naturally color, shape, and size are also at play just like every other recipe in fly tying. The action of the fly may be important at times, however there are also times it really does not matter! I remember tying up some really bizarre streamer patterns in the mid 90’s when I capitalized on what I refer to as “impulse strikes”. These patterns made use of things like a silver beer tab glued to a hook or a piece of coffee cup Styrofoam attached to a hook. One material basically attached to a hook! They worked on many test occasions for trout just like the simple buck-tail streamers used in 1930’s. Keep it simple with your patterns and you will get more time on the water, which is always better than time at the vice as far as I am concerned.

There is no doubt that streamer fishing puts up the majority of really large fish throughout the year. It is also among the simplest technique to learn for a youngster. Both of my kids have had plenty of action at very young ages swinging streamers over active fish. One of the reasons it is the perfect technique for folks new to fly fishing is that the fly line remains under tension as the pattern swings in the current. When a fish strikes it virtually hooks itself!

Here are a few other streamers that have served me well over the years. The Bullhead Sculpin from Gary Borger (you can find it on his blog) is one of the best producers on the stream and is among the most simplistic patterns to tie. One of the best days on the lower Nanty a few springs ago had 6 brown trout to the boat while floating that all went over 6 pounds. Not a bad day to kick off the season since this is no New Zealand in Western North Carolina. We have to compete against hardware fisherman, worm drowners, and corn chunkers-many of our best tailwaters in the Southeast are open game with little regulation.
The acoustic footprint and color of the bullhead sculpin make it among my favorite overall streamer patterns! The other fly is a pattern I learned from Rich Brostic here in Bryson City back in the early 90’s. It uses only two materials which include black chenille body and an olive marabou wing as long as the hook shank. This simple pattern has caught thousands of really big fish all over the globe. You can tie it in under a minute at the vice. Mike Sexton’s “Blank Saver” is another smallish streamer that works great and deserves a row of them in your flybox! You can tie a ton of them in one evening!
I think over time folks progress to really big streamers that are articulated. I know I went that direction in the late nineties tying 6-8 inch streamers. The drawbacks of getting too big include air resistance increases may require a much heavier line. I am sure that over the years the one to three inch streamers have been the most productive. I have hooked many Muskie in western North Carolina when fishing for trout with three inch streamers.

Streamer fishing is all about movement so over time you will play with all kind of retrieval rates and mends on the water. Changing direction of the streamer through use of mends is more advanced but it often can be productive against a bank or differential water current. Play around with different fly line configurations and densities for streamer fishing. One of the most common mistakes I see is the overuse of floating lines used for attempting to catch big fish that hold near the bottom in big water. Build some high density lines that get your flies down where the fish are holding.
When fishing with other folks try to get your group to mix it up rather than everyone chucking thingamabobbers all day long! Your group will learn far more about a watershed throwing nymphs, dries, streamers, and wets! They will all produce fish. Bigger nymphs are often fished like a streamer just for the sake of mixing it up. Enjoy playing around with streamer fishing and remember it is more about your technique than the fly!”

Fly Casting- How straight is Straight Line Path ?

Making Adjustments on the Fly B.Gammel

a very astute casting student asked me recently, “I think I’m having difficulties keeping a Straight Line Path throughout the stroke. I must be doing something wrong ?”

i love these kind of comments. it shows the person is curious, really pays attention to what they’re doing and shows they’ve studied well. at this point i should say that his loops where ideal, nice and smooth, very close to parallel very nice loops, as nice as what we see Andreas Fismen performing in the 500fps slomo gif below. so, what was the problem then ?
since his casting was spot-on it obviously wasn’t anything he was doing wrong (loops don’t lie. they can’t) but simply his understanding of how rod tip travel should be for a textbook straight line cast but who could blame him ?
diagrams, books, videos and even in real, most instructors explain that just as in the diagram above, SLP (Straight Line Path) is a constant from one end of the stroke to the other. even in Jay and Bill Gammel’s awesome reference construct The Five Essentials of Fly Casting, this straight all-the-way-through concept is very easy to accept and take for granted.

“3. In order to form the most efficient, least air resistant loops, and to direct the energy of a fly cast toward a specific target, the caster must move the rod tip in a straight line.”

but is that what really happens ? lets take a closer look.

'SLP' Borger:Lovoll FC

first published in 2010, these findings aren’t anything new to some of us casting geeks but might be a sorta eye-opener for the non geeks, shedding some light for those who have asked themselves the same question as my student. just as we’ll see in the still below, in this study cast SLP is roughly a little bit more than a third of the overall stroke, most of the rod tip’s path has a mostly domed/convex shape with a somewhat flattened top. *
SLP length Borger:Lovoll

i won’t risk any absolutes but as far as i can tell, the only time we’re going to see a true, all-the-way-through SLP and its resultant tight loop will be when a non-flexible rod (the proverbial broomstick) is used to perform the cast. but even if the broomstick is somewhat frequently brought up in casting-geek circles and is a wonderful tool to understand a lot of casting concepts, it’s not something we use.
our ‘real’ rods bend, react to the forces we apply to them, get shorter as they bend and go back to their original length as they unbend and there’s the caster’s biomechanics and probably a billion other factors that are involved when considering rod tip path and even if they all where within my understanding, they’re not about today’s subject.

to conclude, after having shown this video and image to my student (ah, the beauty of bringing an iPad to lessons!) with a few explanations and demonstrations, you’ll most probably have already guessed it but here was the furthered response to his query.

- knowing this isn’t going to change your life, its just one of those ‘what we thought we where doing isn’t necessarily what was going on’ things.
– does this not-as-straight-as-we-thought SLP change anything in the way we should cast ? nope.
– provided you get the loop shapes you’re wanting to create, should you be doing anything differently ? absolutely not !
– if you want a straight line cast, keep on imagining your complete casting stroke is a straight one (and do all the other elements correctly) and you’ll get that tight loop and a straight line layout.

which in a certain manner, makes it resemble Saint Exupery’s elephant inside a boa drawing a lot more than your everyday ruler. at least in my eyes…
elephant-in-boa-SLP


top image from Bill Gammel’s brilliant Making adjustments on the fly
regiffed video and adjoining image via Grunde Løvoll. click HERE for more of Grunde’s slomo studies on Jason Borger’s site: Fish, Flies & Water
elephant/boa drawing from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Le Petit Prince

note- although the loop shape in the gif is textbook ideal, Andreas’ casting stroke seems to be quite long considering he’s only false casting 10m (32.8ft) of line. my guess is he was casting at a fast rate which necessitates a wider casting stroke, perhaps something to do with getting a good visual result with the 500 frames per second camera.

stream pricks

they’re so cute, enjoy  !

“The brook lamprey is a fish that like blind larva lives in the stream bottom for most of his life, and see themselves only late in the spawning season. From the month of August a metamorphosis of the oldest lamprey larvae, which develop the animal eyes and genitals. From that moment, waiting for the first sunny spring days that do heat up the water. In spring everything is in the sign of reproduction, which only lasts a few weeks at the brook lamprey. If the stream prick ready to spawn, they die.” *

* yet another lovely achievement from the genius robotic mind of Google Translate.

be sure to check out blikonderwater‘s page for more super-nice underwater footage.

Belly Scratcha !

just looking at these two pics should dispense the need for any further commentary…

Belly Scratcher Minnow FlyFishFood

we’ve all seen a lot of awesome streamer patterns but in my opinion, if ever there was a ‘good as good gets’ little fish imitation with all the right elements then i haven’t seen it yet. as we clearly see on the top image, beads strung on a wire well away from the hook shank will force the fly to ride hook-point up, help to not snag so much on the river bed or debris and track straight. the weight is still in the front part of the pattern but the ballast’s placement provides a more horizontal swim than dumbbell eyes can give. specifically built for rivers on a floating line, i can see the basic design working anywhere. as noted in the vid, simply add more or less beads depending on your specific depth and current speed needs or if you want to fish them with sinking lines.

baby belly scratcher FFF

here’s the tying tutorial but be sure to click either pic to access the complete article on yet another fantastic tutorial from the bearded bros at FlyFishFood. enjoy !