Fly Lines- Barrio SmallStream 2wt Line test

via Merge Fly Fishing

the video below isn’t much of a review in itself but it sums up all the important features and the film’s lovely location is a perfect example of where this new Barrio line shines like a star.
its short yet very stabile and well proportioned head design lets anglers of all levels easily get the fly where it should go in these tight spaces, whether we’re using aerial or rolls or spey casts.
i used this line model extensively throughout the past season in 3, 4 and 5wts and the great first impressions with each one haven’t changed a bit: i very highly recommend it.

in case you’re wondering, its use isn’t confined to minuscule fish as buddy Sandy Nelson demonstrates here !
sandy's smallstream troot

available in tan or light olive from sizes 1 to 5, click either pic for more info and user reviews on the Barrio site.
at 27£ ( 34€ – 43US$) including fast shipping anywhere in the world this one’s a no brainer.
barrio smallstream

Review- Stickman Rods P5 ‘Evil Black’ 9′ 5wt

stickman 1first off, here’s the tech specs from Stickman Rods:
5 weight, 9′ length, 4 piece
Rod weight: 91 gram (3.21 oz)
Matte natural finish, fast action blanks
Flor grade half wells grip from Portugal
REC reel seat
Anodized aluminium reel seat spacer with engraving in black or red
Fuji stripping guides in black
Recoil Black Pearl titanium guides
Hopkins&Holloway tip tops
Black wraps with fire red edging
Blanks made in Spain, rods built in Hungary
Rod sock and black leather logo-embossed Cordura tube
Retail price is 649 € including VAT
shipped worldwide for a flat rate of 30 euros.

Warranty stickman 3
click here for CCS and MOI comparative data.
more info on the CCS and MOI  systems, what they mean and how they may be of use when comparing known rods.

stickman 5note that this review is for the Evil Black model but the P5 also comes in two other versions: Stealth and Forest. apart from their different aesthetic configurations (and the fact that they’re therefore neither EVIL nor BLACK ! ) the only difference these other models have is they sport a wooden reel-seat insert making them 10 grams lighter. (yeah, i’m having a hard time understanding how thin aluminium is heavier than a much thicker wooden insert but that’s just the way it is) anyway, that extra 10 gm is in the butt end of the rod so its next to impossible to feel the difference when casting or fishing. the aluminium spacer means this particular model is not only dead sexy but also saltwater friendly and won’t get nasty if left wet in the rod tube for a few weeks.

ok, now for the more difficult part, the subjective…
outside of simply sharing the above data, there’s no other way to describe something like a fly rod without including personal views, colours and tastes.
i’ll spare you silly common marketing blurbs such as- ‘this rod tracks better than others’ or ‘throws tighter loops’ or ‘is more accurate’ or “will catch you more fish” because we all know that those aspects are dependant of the user and not the product.

ok, lets start !

fly lines used
– Barrio SLX- GT90, GT125, Small Stream in 5 & 4wt
– Scientific Anglers- XPS, Nymph, Sharkskin 5 & 4wt
– Vision- Attack clear intermediate 5wt
– Piam- DT 5wt
– various homemade shooting heads connected to monofilament shooting line

All lines performed equally well within their inherent capacities. this rod being a ‘real 5wt’ with a CCS-ERN (Effective Rod Number) of 4,9 it handled all 5wt lines perfectly with no need for over-lining. in fact i did try several 6wt lines on it but wasn’t happy with how the extra line weight affected the feeling during the casts. i’ll have to confess that i’m a chronic ‘under-liner’ and although the rod performs flawlessly with 5wt lines, the real ‘super-sweet’ feeling happened with 4wt lines. i had several very good casting instructor friends in five different countries try out the rod with both 4&5 lines and most preferred it with a 5wt. we all have different tastes and thats great !
what i particularly like about this rod’s line weight polyvalent nature is these two line choices fit in perfectly for the vast majority of my trout-type fishing without having to change rods to get that ‘spot on’ feeling. the 4wt line goes on for lighter and slimmer flies in non-windy situations and the 5wt on the extra spool takes its place when casting bigger flies or when the wind’s up. nice.

action
the AA (Action Angle – see CCS & MOI link above) of 68 places the P5 Evil Black on the lower end of fast-actioned rods. this means that it’s no stiff poker that most anglers will feel the need to over-line and it’s very easy to feel how the load/bend is distributed throughout the rod as it varies throughout the casting strokes helping to achieve great line control.
of maybe more importance to me than stiffness ratings is how smoothly yet fast the rod tip recovers (resumes its straight position) after the completion of a cast.
in short, a rod that continues to ‘boing-boing’ after a cast sends waves down the rod leg of the fly line and in this case, these waves are a form of slack and we all know that slack is the opposite of tension and that maintaining as much tension throughout the cast is ultra-important. without this tension there’s reduced line control, loops are kinda unappealing and ultimately, they’re less effective. simples.
this particularity is what in my opinion makes this blank stand up there among a very small handful of other rod models from the best companies in the world. it’s an easy rod to cast and it flatters the caster’s capabilities and that’s hard not to like.

stickman 2

build
Gampel Istvan is the man behind the craft. “He has been in the fishing industry for more than 20 years now. At first as a shop owner and later as a custom rod builder. Rod building is a passion for him, he constantly strives to reach perfection in everything he does” and this is apparent as soon as the rod is pulled from its sock. Gampi’s fine work is along the lines of “Less is More”, just what a high end build should be. thread and epoxy quantity are kept to more-than-strong-enough minimum and this fits in with the idea of matching the ultra light blank to ultra light hardware to preserve the blank’s maximum crispness and efficiency. nice.
as per the CCS/MOI page, the completed rod’s swingweight is very low meaning it feels very light whether we’re just holding it, waggling it around or actually casting. nice.

not really a part of the rod build itself but closely related, i wanted to point out that the ferrules hold extremely well throughout the day and are super-easy to take apart when going home. no slipping or twisting even after a full day of casting, (which means maybe hundreds of times more casts than when fishing) with the same non-slip result after long sessions of Spey casts, notorious for twisting rods apart. for the review i made the conscious effort of very slightly fitting the ferrules together (much less force than usual) just to see if they would come apart or twist and they simply didn’t move. nice.

conclusion

cons
i can’t find anything i would change with this rod. from the blank, component and build quality, aesthetics, super-smooth cork and grip shape and of course the way the rod feels and performs, it simply feels spot-on.
the only negative (which isn’t a negative but more of an inconvenience to the general public) is this rod company is very new and doesn’t have a wide-spread reputation yet, something that might put a few off from giving them a try.
via the Warranty page we’ll however see that there is a 14 day ‘like or refund’ option for those that might be hesitant.
pros
if you’ve read this whole article you’ve basically seen nothing but pros so, to conclude i’ll simply restate my own criteria when assessing a fly rod:

“its an easy rod to pick up but a hard one to put down… “

click either image above or the following link to access the Stickman Rods site for more info and the contact page.

 

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2014

Review- Smith Creek Rod Clip

being the third and final review of these great Smith Creek products, the Rod Clip is, at least in my eyes, one of the most interesting and practical accessories i’ve seen, one i’ve had my eye on since it came out and was quite eager to try out.

smithcreek rod clip m.fauvet:TLC

here’s a typical scenario: i’m in the water and i’ve got a rod in one hand but i’d like or need to do something that involves both hands. i can’t put the rod down, i’m not going to hold the grip in between my teeth because it looks stupid and gives me jaw cramps. some fly fishing vests have a strap-like loop to hold the rod butt and velcro strap towards the top of the vest to hold the blank but people wear vests to hold things like fly boxes and whatnot in them and those things can make it very difficult to strap on the rod and if the angler has a soft, roundish pronounced belly, the situation is exacerbated exponentially as girth increases.
although the Rod Clip on the pics is on a vest i don’t wear/use them, much preferring chest packs but there’s nothing on chest packs to help us hold a rod. i could temporarily slip the rod butt inside my waders but i don’t always wear waders and when it’s cold or raining there’s a jacket over the wader entry and besides, the chest pack is in the way…
holding the rod between the legs or under an arm is ok for a quick whatever but the rod tip is left pointing out and it’s not very relaxing or practical, specially if i want to take some pics or snack on chocolate or just stare at the sun. now, with the Rod Clip i just reach over with one hand, wedge the blank into the dense foam slit of the Clip and the rod is solidly held there off to my side, safely pointing up until i need it again. simple, intuitive and brilliant !

Smith-Creek-Rod-Clip

as the other Smith Creek products, design, component selection and craftsmanship are top-notch. Anodised marine-grade aluminum and UV resistant materials means that there’s little chance of it wearing out any time soon. Designed for use with light to medium weight outfits up to 1/2 inch (13mm) diameter and maximum weight of 1 ½ lbs. (680 g), it securely holds any of my single-hand rods in the 3 to 9 wt range.
the zinger attaches to whatever you’re wearing via a pin so, unless you’re a nudist angler you’re bound to find ‘just the right place’ for whatever it is you’re wearing that day. be sure to place the zinger towards a side of your chest and not towards the middle as this would have the rod blank in your face, knocking off your cap once the rod is placed in the Clip. don’t ask…

to conclude, this is a very fine product i highly recommend. as an assessor i feel the need to be picky and look for things that might have been improved and there’s only a minor one and that’s the attachment pin. it’s strong and sturdy and faultless in itself and i’m quite certain it won’t detach under ‘normal’ use but pins are pins and if you’re typical waters involve slipping through bushes and trees to access them you’ll want to place the zinger in an area where these ‘devil’s claws‘ won’t tear it off. i guess that’s more of a precautionary suggestion rather than a design fault so the clip still gets an all-around A.

rod clip top view M.Fauvet:TLC

click either image to access the Springforelle online shop to view Wayne Smith’s how-to-use video with extra tips on this product and to order yours for only 21.90 €

 

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2014

Review- Smith Creek ‘Trash Fish’ Spent Line Wrangler

trashfish 1 TLC reviews

“I see way too much fishing line on the riverbank and I got so tired of re-stuffing spent leaders and tippets back into my vest pocket that I finally designed a tool to make them stay put. And no, I didn’t want another tool hanging from my vest but something simple and slim, which easily fits into my pocket.”
Wayne Smith – Smith Creek

Wayne’s quote sums it up well. whether as a way to manage our own monofilament waste or someone else’s, this very cleverly conceived, rugged, well made and user/environment-friendly accessory is yet another top-notch item from Smith Creek.
teeny-tiny at just 75 x 29 x 9 mm and very light at just a few grams, it’s light enough to not even notice that it’s there.

using it and discarding the waste once home couldn’t be simpler. wrap, slide in the mono and slide it off.
trashfish how-to TLC reviews
as you can see on the how-to above, using it is a no-brainer which means we’ll take to it easily and use it every time and that’s good for our water systems and their inhabitants.
after using it for a while, i found a slightly different method of winding on mono and this allows me to easily make the separation between mono that’s to be trashed and mono that can still be used as when the fishing situation requires a tippet change but that tippet is still usable.
– for ‘junk’ mono, i’ll simply jam a tag end into the foam area and wind directly and somewhat tightly around the aluminium frame, jam the other tag end and slide the lot deeper into the foam.
– for ‘reusable’ mono, i follow Wayne’s recommendation. this leaves a bigger, discernible loop as we can see on the images.
as always, when trashing any line, be sure to clip it to tiny bits before discarding as all sorts of wild and domestic animals visit dumpsites.

TrashFish 2 TLC reviews

bottom line: i highly recommend the Trash Fish even if it’s name’s a little quirky !

click either image to access the Springforelle online shop to view Wayne Smith’s how-to-use video on this product and to order yours for only 12.90 €

 

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2014

Review- Smith Creek Landing Net Holster

SmithCreek holster w:net
what a simple, elegant and ingenious idea ! simply tucking a net under the belt is one of the better ways to loose it and while magnet/clip systems are great, they also require wearing something: a vest, chest-pack or jacket that happens to have a loop in the right place to attach it to.
going light and ‘minimalist’ say, on a hot summer day (or bundled-up for a very cold one for that matter) can make this a bit of an issue but now we have another option and this option’s a very good one.
on and off your belt in a flash, this holster can be the deciding factor whether we bring the net to the river or not, and frankly, we’re better off with one, specially the fish !

extremely well thought out and manufactured and what seems to be as close to super-resistant and durable as it gets, outside of maybe having a hydroplane crash on you when out fishing, i can’t imagine this holster either wearing out or breaking.
fully and easily adjustable to fit any net’s handle by means of a velcro sewn along the web strap, another groovy feature worth noticing are the slots allowing you to slide it on and off the belt without having to remove the belt and thread it through. brilliant.
another cool feature is the hole at the top of the aluminium frame meaning it gives another means of attaching the holster via a clip to something and here i’m thinking this accessory will really shine attached to a float tube, pontoon boat or boat and maybe even a well-trained pack dog. cool.

after having tested this holster for several months, there’s not a single thing i can think of that i’d improve or want different, don’t hesitate.
if you want a different way to hold your net, this one’s a no-brainer. who knows, even something you’ll be able to pass on to your kids or grandkids.
SmithCreek holster back

click either image to access the Springforelle online shop to view Wayne Smith’s how-to-rig and how-to-use videos on this product and to order yours for 34.90 €

 

SmithCreek holster 1

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2014

Tackle Review: The Fly Tidy fly tying station

‘Something new, something different, something really cool. 

fly tidy w:vise & tools

Fly tying stations aren’t new but this one is a modernized, simplified and very practical and functional rework of the basic design.

Fair enough, at first sight it’s a little strange to get all excited about a piece of plastic but here are it’s features with some plus and minus notes along the way.

– Size
45 x  27,5 x 2,5 cm (or 17 3/4 x 10,8 x 1 inches)
The workspace recess, tool and accessory holes are 2 cm deep (0,8 inch)
The easily accessible tools stay where they’re put and materials don’t roll out of the workspace. Whether using the tool holders or workspace, hooks, beads and other materials stay within the tray and standard varnish bottles don’t tip over. Everything’s always at hand right where they should be and this even when placed on the lap or other less than usual and uneven places such as car hoods or trunks: Nice
The base of smaller sized fly clips also fit in the tool holes, giving the tier an easily accessible area to deposit flies to dry after varnishing or to compare them when tying series of the same pattern: Nice
fly tidy tool holes

When assessing a product like this I ask myself things like “would it be better if it was bigger, smaller, etc, etc ?”  and after a month of tying nothing came to mind meaning it’s size is just right, be it on my tying desk or anywhere else around the house or on the road. The compact yet ‘more than enough’ size  makes it very easy to pick it up and go tie a fly or two while doing dumb things like cooking or watching tv or whatever !
As an aside, it easily fits inside my Fishpond tying bag or other similar tying carrying systems making it all the more easier to bring along anywhere, whether on an extended fishing trip or at fly shows: Nice

-Weight
Is estimated at just under a kilo (2,2 pounds)
Not too heavy, not too light:  Just right

-Material
the Fly Tidy is made of a single, food-grade, recyclable, highly resistant plastic: the same stuff used to make professional, industry-grade kitchen cutting boards.
With the exception of the vise screw, it’s hidden support thread  and the four little rubber anti-slip feet, the whole board is machined from one solid piece and as such nothing could ever fall apart or become unglued. It’s not like we usually mistreat these kinds of objects, but I’m quite certain that even repeated hammer blows would hardly leave a dent on it’s surface: Nice
(The truly serious reviewer might resort to using an axe or chainsaw to thoroughly test this tool’s resistance to abuse but I guess I’m not serious enough !)

It’s white and as far as I’m concerned, white is best. It’s colour neutral and eliminates the need for a viewing plate behind the fly. Somewhere between shiny and matt, any object placed on the Tidy shows up right away regardless of the tying area’s light level. Locating and picking up the smallest of materials is simple and quick: Nice
Most of us have a lamp angled from above towards the fly and the white base reflects light back underneath our fly, evening out contrast, reducing eye strain and simply giving a better overall view: Nice
Having been told that it resists to varnishes, glues and UV resins I had a play with all of the above and confirm the claim. Simply let the gunk dry (or cure it with the UV light) and just chip  it away with the thumbnail and the board looks like new, as if nothing had ever adhered to it: Nice

fly tidy

-Vise Clamp
If your vise has a clamp, simply slide the stem in the board’s clamp and tighten the screw.
If you’re using a pedestal throw it away ! Once the vise stem is installed, the very stable contact area of the base makes that I can’t even make the Tidy rock or slide while purposely winding down hard on a big pike hook with 3/0 or GSP thread. Hooks where bent out of shape before anything moved. It’s like the stability of a clamp vise without having to work on the edge of a table, something the big fly tier might really appreciate: Nice

Now so far, there’s been nothing but ‘Nice‘ to sum up the Tidy’s features but as an assessor it’s my job to find what’s less than ideal so here goes:
As much as I like the vise clamp placement and board stability there’s one aspect here that left a minor frown however a quick, simple and cost-free solution took about one minute to fix this and in my opinion, made the vise connection even better.
The clamp hole’s diameter is a wee bit too wide for my Tiemco vise therefore it wobbles a little when tying even when the screw is tightened to the max. This vise is made in Japan and like any japanese product it’s in metric standards whereas almost every other vise on the market is in imperial (inches) making for a very small yet noticeable fitting difference. I don’t have access to a non-metric vise to measure it’s stem diameter but i’m pretty sure it’ll be just a tad wider than the metric. Others who have tried the Fly Tidy haven’t mentioned  this issue so I’m reasonably certain almost any other vise will fit perfectly.
As such, it’s neither a design or production fault but simply a proof that universal fits aren’t usually very universal and I needed to point this out.

So, as a remedy I cut a slim sleeve from a plastic sheet 3cm x 8mm x 1 mm and inserted it into the hole and wedged the vise stem inside. fly tidy vise-clamp space filler (The plastic sleeve was left intact for illustration purposes. My ‘permanent’ version has been trimmed flush at the base of the board. You wouldn’t know it’s there)

This makes for a non-wobly, very solid hold while enabling the rotation of the vise by simply twisting it towards or away from me to make sure dumbbell eyes are on straight or for weaving fly bodies or simply to view or work on a fly at an oblique angle: Perfect !

Conclusions
– The Fly Tidy is a very nice accessory that’s a pleasure to use.
– The term ‘Tidy’ seems to be what sums up this product best as it makes for a more compact, organized and freer working space.
– It’s one of those items you don’t necessarily think of before actually using one but it’s also one of those things you miss when it’s not around.
– It’s not a necessary item but simply makes tying easier and as such I can only wholeheartedly recommend it.

The Fly Tidy’s price is £40 (that’s roughly 47€ or 63 US$) + postage
Postage prices are:
£7.50 to anywhere in UK.
£15.00 to Europe.
£22.50 to worldwide.
Royal mail first class recorded
Payments are made through PayPal.

For more information and ordering send an email to Lee James at leejames133.lj@googlemail.com or leejames133@talktalk.net
Or by phone: +447827961880 (UK)
Website:- www.theflytidy.WordPress.com
Or through Facebook… @ Lee James (the flytidy)

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2013