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- 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.

 

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.

 

For more information-
www.theflytidy.wordpress.com

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2013

Review- Veevus Tying Threads and Tying Materials

A thread is a thread is a thread, right ?
Well, no. Considering that in most cases, tying thread is what holds everything together when we’re tying flies, it’s quality and reliability are what ‘makes or breaks’ the tying experience and our results depend on it doing what we expect it to do.

“The choice of tying thread for a particular application in fly dressing is probably one of the most important decisions a tier will make. It is as important as the choice of materials used for the flies themselves. 
Thread choice can be a very subjective issue, many tiers will have love/hate relationships with different threads from time to time, and this can be the result of incorrect thread selection in the first place.”
quote from Dr. Paul Little / Fly Dresser – The Journal of the FlyDresser’s Guild 2011

A few months back, I discovered and saw tying videos of  these new threads and wrote Emir Veevus, the founder of the company to ask for some samples to review. A few days later I received a nice little box with 12 spools comprised of:

Threads-
6/0 F02 White
8/0 E01 Black
8/0 E02 White
8/0 E04 Red
8/0 E06 Pink
10/0 D04 Light (Almond) Green
12/0 C05 Burgundy/Claret
14/0 B02 White
14/0 B05 Brown
M11 M Stomach
(Yup, Stomach does sound a bit ‘medical’ but Emir tells me that it was the result of  the translation of ‘abdomen’ or ‘body’ and the word stayed. I think it’s cool and yet another item that sets this company apart !)

Tinsel & Wire-
T12 S Holo-Tinsel
W01 S Steel Wire

From the Veevus site we see that these threads are stronger than all non-gsp type threads (gel spun polyethylete) which is a wonderful quality because it’s enormously frustrating to have a thread break before we’re finished with the fly… but is that what makes a good thread ?
Not really, or at least it needs some other qualities on top of strength.
If strength was the major criteria we could just hand out a considerable amount more money at the shop and buy the gsp threads mentioned above and happily live with the knowledge that our thread is strong enough to bend almost any hook in the vise without breaking.
Ok, that might sound pretty good but it doesn’t sound pretty good to me. What we find out when we buy the gsp threads is they slip on or around materials, need to be kept under a constant pressure because they don’t stretch and in the case of tying in foam or deer hair or similar, they often cut right through the materials (Add your favorite cuss-words here) because the thread is very thin and the buyer was told by the advertisers that they could tug down like a brute, so they tug like brutes…

Enough with the strength, let’s look at other aspects.

Stretch-

When a thread stretches it will later retract when tension is reduced. This holds our materials better than a thread that won’t stretch.
All of the Veevus threads stretch a little. Just enough and in an easily controllable and predictable manner.
Just right.

Twisting / Splitting-
Their non-bound multi-filament construction allows full and easy control. Sure, all threads can be twisted tighter but not all can be untwisted easily. Untwisting is yet another key element in thread management as it allows us to either lay a smooth and flat layer of thread for its appearance or for reducing bulk but also to use that extra width to bind down certain materials with that wider surface contact.
Splitting the threads to insert dubbing is as easy as it gets.
While the other threads have a many multi-filament construction, the 6/0 is a two-strand making this extremely easy, fast and a very strong for inserting bigger materials needed for the construction of streamers, pike or saltwater flies. I don’t even need a dubbing needle to split this thread. Just unwind it a bit, give it some slack and it opens up on it’s own.
Just right.

Resistance-
Or more specifically, abrasion resistance. Number one here is the dreaded ‘hook-point tick’ of the thread while winding around the shank. Although this occurs less and less as time goes by, I won’t say that it never happens to me but here I did a few tests on purpose to see how they hold up. Some threads tear right away. The Veevus threads don’t.
Just right.

Colors-
Available in a vast array of colors as you’ll see here, if you need to add your own color because you want a special tone or just want a different color without tying off and changing spools, they take permanent marker’s inks very well and fast and the color stays on.
Just right.

Spools-
Rarely mentioned yet a very important aspect is the spools themselves and how the thread was wound on them. You won’t find any loose ‘starter’ ends coming off the side lip of the spool like it’s quite common with Benecchis’… All of the threads have been wound cleanly and evenly with just the right amount of tension leading to very smooth tying.
It would be very hard to say exactly if this is the reason why, but after two fly-tying fairs, several tying courses and the subsequent traveling and bag-throwing, not a single spool has unwound which usually results in the thread crossing itself, blocking up while tying and ending up flying through the air with frustration… Just right.
And before I stop with the smooth bit, some of the spools seem (my guess) to be made of Rilsan, a low-friction plastic often used as washers or in other mechanical parts. They’re slightly translucent. When placed in bobbin holders there is a strong marked difference in rotational smoothness from any other type of spool I’ve ever seen, once again making tying very precise, predictable and smooth.
I hope they extend the use of these spools throughout the whole range.
Just right.

Stomach Thread-
As mentioned above, it’s initial purpose is for building abdomens and bodies but it’s a lot more versatile than that. It’s construction is a cross between a floss and a thread which means it can also be used for tags, tails, hot-spots, wings and heads. It is easily twisted tight or loose and split to insert whatever dubbing-type material you might want to bind down. The spool I received is a bright fluorescent yellow/green and by inserting darker dubbing in the split-thread,  was able to get a much more ‘natural’ color of the body on the outside while getting a glow from the thread from underneath, specially visible when wet. Cool and Just right.

Holo Tinsel & Steel Wire
Both are excellent products.  What greatly sets these apart from many others is once again their strength and flexibility. Once mounted on a bobbin holder they can easily replace tying thread: Including tying on, binding on materials, dubbing and whip finishing. This opens up quite a lot of creative possibilities, helps reduce thread bulk, makes tying easier and more precise and there’s no waste.
Just right.

Steel Wire abdomen on ‘Silver and Gold’

Conclusion-
After using these products several months there isn’t a single negative aspect I could add here. That’s quite impressive considering how much I like to critique and criticize…
I’m using the smaller 10/0, 12/0 and 14/0 sizes almost exclusively and with complete confidence for trout-type flies and my technique and general ‘tying tidiness’ has gone up a notch, maybe several.

As in my other reviews, this is a two part question and answer affair.

– Do I like these products and would I recommend them ? Most definitely yes.

– If I where to have only one brand of tying threads would the Veevus be it ?
Again, most definitely yes and quite happily. They’re that good and are exactly what i expect from a versatile top-end product.
Just right.

You’ll find all these products and more tying goodies on the Veevus site.