Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some More Product Review, Random Thoughts and Wing Position

Back in Canada after a bliss session with the country of Bali.  What a remarkable little place with amazing beauty and devoted spirituality.  I loved viewing the morning ritual as household members went around their temple homes blessings effigies and making offerings of incense and flowers.  The food was amazing, the people friendly and the scenery stunning...beautiful culture.

I thought there should be a few more things mentioned in the product review, the products that stood out for me as being different enough to mention.  First off Smith Optics introduced a new lens and called it polarchromic ignitors; a pinkish hued lens that is ideally suited for mixed sun/cloud days.  The lens adjusts to the lighting conditions so you have optimum glare reduction without having to switch lenses.  Joel and I jumped got on it quick and ordered a few sets and have been really impressed with it's versatility.  My previous favourite all around lens was an amber lens but the polarchromic seems to perform better in the lower light.  A nice addition to the techlite glass series and just so everybody knows; glass is far superior to the polyblended contest!!!  Water visibility is key and glasses are a huge part of your game on the water, they are worth the extra cost not just for vision but for eye protection....they allow way less UV light in.
Smith Optics Polarchromic Ignitors

Patagonia has always been one of my favourite companies for outdoor wear and there waders are legendary for those in the know.  Joel bought a set this year and aside from the actual styling of the wader the comfort of these are second to none.  They are well fitted, not sloppy and baggy, the material is sturdy yet light and the newest/latest/coolest feature is the merino wool lined boot.  Feels great and allows some airflow down there not to mention the added warmth it provides.  A bit expensive but worth the extra for sure.

Guidewater Wader by Patagonia

Some quick but tasty thoughts on fly selection.  My years of guiding have taught me a lot about fish behaviour and to believe that fish are not aware of the more subtle aspects of a flies composition is simply not true.  I have seen the fish of the Elk become smarter as years go on, as they get pinned and released time and time again they become more aware of what does not appear to be natural.  Often times it's a matter of nerves; some fish are just not as willing to breach the surface and show their head to the hungry eagles and ospereys above.  They become finicky eaters and develop selective habits and one of the key discoveries for me fishing to trout that have been experienced is to give them something they feel safer with....the low profile flies.

As hatches began and we as anglers arrive on the scene it often seems as if you could chuck anything at them and it will get crushed.  That often is the case and often lasts but I have noticed over the last several years that I am switching to different patterns as the hatch progresses and as refusals appear on bushy hairwinged dries I move right over to the subtle and unassuming flat wing/spent dun/spinner type patterns.  Trout feel safe sipping these as they are not worried about the bug flying away as it is spent or on it's way out and trout often act surprised when they've sucked down a spinner only to have there jaw pulled sharply in the other direction.  I always steer curious anglers into the flat wing styled patterns in the local fly bins and most of the new patterns I develop have that characteristic in them.  A flat wing of varied shade with a mix of crystal flash for visibility.  Without flat winged patterns in your box you'll struggle to survive the duration of a hatch and the process becomes that of frustration, however; in the right place and at the right time, these patterns make the angling seem easy.  Wicked trout food.....YUM

'Til next time

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fly fishing has many creative participants and a dedicated following.  The amount of gear available out there is astonishing and it would be impossible to sample it all.  Being a guide allows me to try a lot of rods and reels that my guests have brought and there are definitely some beautiful rods being made out there these days.  The tendency has been to build faster, harder, stronger; but there has been equal attention put into the softer and slower presentation rods like the Scott F1 and now F2.

The Scott F2  

Scott Fly Rod Company has balls for sure.  They have a hip and photo rich ad campaign that creates a lifestyle image around the company and when they launched the F1 series a couple of years back I remember thinking WOW!  A fibreglass rod series introduced when the industry trend is wrapping blanks for speed.  A throw back in material for sure but enough to catch the interest of our guides Jonny 'Bravo' and Joel Whalen.  They both bought this awesome little pieces of Colorado architecture to do battle with the cutts in some of our smallest waters.  They both purchased one weights matched them with Sages ultra light Click 1 and began a small stream love affair.

It's a super cool little rod which waves like the wand of a sorcerer in the right hands, picture hiding behind a stand of grass and with a couple of flicks of the wrist you can cast the  fly, stack a mend and let it drift softly into the basin sized bucket where trout lips is softly sipping.  As you raise your  arm to set on the poor creature, the arc in the rod doubles over and an epic small stream battle ensues.  The soft blank of the rod allows for short and aggressive runs into the undercut absorbing the tension put on the tippet...truly a small stream specialists rod of choice.   One of our newest clients Jerry Skurka from the Chicago area brandishes this fine little weapon on the countless spring streams of the Driftless area in Wisconsin.  His is a three weight F2 and I gave that rod a few throws on one of our small streams and found it to be an incredibly acrobatic rod.  You can definitely get tricky with these little gems.

For reels I've been married to Bauer for a long time.  I've had some of their reels for 8 years and have never had them fail.  The cork/ceramic drag system is impeccable and smooth beyond compare.  Most of their reels are equipped with this system.  The one fall back of this drag system is wear in the drag knob which can cause the knob to back off during weather changes which is fairly constant in the Rocky Mountains.  This is easily fixed by adding washers which can be sent to the customer by Bauer or you can choose to step away from this system and go with their new Rogue series which is where I have been lately.  A sealed drag system with ultra smooth resistance, the large V arbour allows for excellent line capacity in an extremely light weight reel.  For the Columbia River this is essential as the runs can put you so deep into your backing it is essential to step up a reel size in order to handle the brutes in the massive current.  Having a light weight large arbour allows this to happen without messing up it's balance with the rod.  They have some cool colour options including a splash colour which is added on at a reasonable cost.

From the Lens of a Raven

My main guide and main man Joel Whalen has some mad skills; definitely inflicted with the midas touch.  We've been really blessed to have him in our lives over the years, he's a man of great talent, deep commitment and integrity.  Here is the result of countless hours of editing, dragging camera gear into river valleys sometimes to capture sometimes nothing, sometimes a few things  and in the odd moment the true magic of the natural world as seen through his lens.  This is a compilation of that effort....ENJOY!

(press link below)

Love Flyfishing 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Where I've Been Lately....

Looking For Customers on the Ganges

After a brief trip to Thailand to drop off materials and patterns for my tiers myself and my beloved Leah hopped on a plane and flew to India, a country I've wanted to visit for a long time.  I had an idea of what to expect from the numerous stories Leah had relayed to me after her previous journeys to there.  I was excited to land in Calcutta after a couple hour flight from Bangkok on Air Asia and taste the air of India.  And it tasted how I thought it might....not too good.  But a city of that size and level of poverty is going to have shitty air, there were a lot of old vehicles coughing and spewing there way through the Calcutta streets. After a few days in Calcutta we hopped on a train and headed for Bodghaya; the site of the Bodhi tree where the Buddha achieved enlightenment.

The town of Bodghaya is poor, intensely poor and there had been a massive Buddhist pilgrimage to the town just prior to our arrival so the town had been pushed to it's already meager limits and there was literally excrement in the streets; in a small gutter on the side of the walkway, one false step and you'd be in it....a far cry from the gravel freestone riverbottoms that my sandles are normally used to stepping on.  They were not happy about that experience. Aside from that the temple grounds surrounding the tree was beautiful and full of devoted Buddhists who had made the pilgrimages from northern India, Bhutan and other countries.  It was a powerful feeling to be there and I will hold those moments in a special place was beautiful.

After Bodghaya there was a brief stop in Veranassi, perhaps the holiest city in the world and certainly the focal point of the holiest river in the world the Ganges.  I liked Veranassi and although I had heard the city was dirty it was quite a step up from our two previous stops of Calcutta and Bodghaya. The level of devotion of the Hindus to their holy river the Ganga is impressive.  Every day hundreds of thousands  of Hindus bathe in the river, a river that has a cholera bacteria level that is off the charts.  The banks are lined with 'ghats' which include a burning ghat where their dead are burned and then put into the river a process which cleanses the soul. 

This rivers cholera bacteria count is 3000 times acceptable levels and water tests indicate that the river is septic.  Still miraculously and perhaps magically, there are quite a few fish in the river, one of our guides mentioned catching fish over 40 pounds, some kind of cat fish. I witnessed quite a few fish rising in the river which amazed me.  Biologists are stunned that fish do live in it and I watched a few people sipping out of it!!

Laundry on the Ganga--the Spin Cycle
Ahmdebad was our next stop and it was a nice one. It's a clean city that seems to be experiencing some economic growth and has become one of India's business centres.  This is home to Aura Herbal Wear; a company that Leah found  years ago owned by Arun and Sonal Baid.  Aura is a natural dyeing company and produces large quantities of natural dyed fabrics like organic cotton and silk. It was beautiful to watch the fabrics run through the dye baths and walking through the factory felt healthy as all products are made from plant dyes.  There fabrics are gorgeous and feel great on the skin, Joel and I wear a lot of shirts made from their dyes guiding and I would love to see a company like Patagonia using there product for the 'organic' clothing line, cause really what's the point in having an organic cotton shirt when it's been soaked in a chemical dye bath.  Kind of kills the organic side of it.  They are taking this to the next level and are hoping that this will become the way of the future for the garment industry as they have seen first hand what the many chemical dye factories can do to the water of their homeland.  They are lovely people with big hearts and clear vision, it's nice to see that some people are working towards positive change.

Organic Cotton Running Through Indigo Dye Bath

  We spent another week in India before flying into Singapore and then on to Bali.  It was an amazing contrast going from Chennai in India to Singapore.  Singapore is spotless, the pollution is minimal and the city is strikingly modern.  The Marina Bay area might be the nicest section of a city I have seen, some amazing design concept went into the construction of that place and I'm looking forward to returning to the city on my way back to Canada at the end of the month.  But for now it's beautiful Bali and my introduction to surfing and yes I've been getting crushed out there.  The surf was rough the first five days and the ocean really beat the shit out of me, but it's settled down quite a bit and life on the board has been a lot easier and a little more's not the easiest sport to learn tho.

In my previous blog entry I mentioned that I hadn't heard from anybody in my angling world, not a peep and that entry was followed by a rash of good bookings so that was nice.  Almost all of the bookings are for August and that month is getting full in fact the 8th to the 16th is fully booked.  Snow levels are low at the moment but the last few springs have brought some late snow so we'll see what happens there; but if things continue as is then we'll be looking at some good angling on the Elk for opening day in mid June and the West Kootenays will be happening in early June as long as there is warm weather to get the caddis moving.

Joel is currently editing another fly fishing video and I will be posting that on my site and on my blog in the next few weeks and I will also be doing a gear review based on our experiences with what we played around with last summer.  We all got to try some new stuff last year and there are definitely some standout items that I don't mind plugging.  'Til then.....

Life in The Fast Lane, Ahmdebad