RSSEquipment

New Mexico Fly Rod Reel Outfitting

| January 17, 2018

Choosing the Right Rod and Reel For New Mexico Small Streams

I have a friend, this old codger who is about to retire from a cushy professor job that he’s had so long … he actually knew what he was teaching, and got paid for it! You know, the days before universities became bottom-line corporations.

Besides his great spot on Lake Kiowa, he has a second casita on a hill overlooking Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. And it’s that home that comes with some fantastic trout fly fishing opportunities. He made some contact there, at one of the fly shops, and whoever he met filled his head with the idea he was in valhalla for brown trout. I would never deny my limited knowledge of that part of New Mexico, so what am I to do, but get him ready for retirement.

He is ready for something small, and matched to the fish he’s going to find in that part of New Mexico and Southern Colorado.

FLY RODS FROM MY QUIVER

From my quiver, I pulled three rods to show him, rods I have had a long time, caught a lot of trout on, and rods that travel well. They’re versatile, and they are sized for the potential small stream, tight overhanging trees and shrubs that can foul a day pretty quickly.

That’s another thing. Although this guy is considerably older, he still has a signifiant case of ADD. If he doesn’t catch, it’s time to go. If he has to go too much? It really IS TIME TO GO NOW. So, we don’t want him to get frustrated in this new habitat.

THREE RODS

The three rods I would go mountain man with are:

  • TFO BVK 8-foot 3 weight
  • TFO BVK 7-foot 9-inch 4 weight
  • TFO Finesse Glass 7-foot 3-4

I have had, and sold all of my rods – below five weight – that are 9-foot rods. And I can never imagine going back. It’s hard to figure out why the dice landed on 9 when it comes to modern fly rod length, but we are going through some blow-back in recent years, as it dawns on fly fishers; why the heck do I need a 9-foot crack pipe? Couple that enlightenment with the advent of legal bass rods, and the door was blown wide open when it comes to rod length.

Of the three rods listed above, the TFO 4 weight is now available in 8 feet only. Three inches really don’t do a lot to the overall performance of this rod. That’s because, in general, when we are dealing with these ultralight small rods – the differences between those of the same family, and the differences with other families, like Sage or Winston, are so minute as to be completely negotiable. Sure, you will get the latest generation whiz bang from the high end rods, but can you feel it? Does it matter that much? The TFO warranty trumps any minute chills that a Sage runs up your pant leg anyway.

Whenever you get to five, then a rod can speak to you more clearly – in its own language that you either understand, or you don’t. I would stand by my Winston BII five weight in case the old codger invited me to a place, like the San Juan River Navajo Quality Waters. That’s a place that has some fantastic trophy fish that would break one of these small rods like Bo Jackson breaks bats.

Now this education is a “ground-up” outfitting for this old gentleman, so we also need to look at reels and lines.

Best Small Fly Fishing Reels Under 200 Dollars

This is another great reason to pull the trigger on a small fly rod – reels at this size are also extremely affordable as well! There is no good reason to spend a lot of money on reels at this size because drag is rarely an issue, rust is no issue, and the reel often amounts exactly to what it has been so often called – A LINE HOLDER.

If I were buying new small reels today? I would honestly have a hard time deciding which reel to buy. Many of today’s reel makers realize the function of their reels has never been better – advanced drag systems, computer controlled production machining or casting. The average reel today is mechanically light years ahead of the best reel of fifteen years ago. Some of the old technology has survived, but that reel technology has also been upgraded by the technological revolution.

So how are today’s small fly reels different? The drag systems ARE different for different brands, and different models with in a brandname, and the materials can be cast or machined aluminum. But the big differences are in the sexiness being designed into fly fishing reels these days. These designers are learning from sports car design; creating reels that look like they are moving even when they are standing still. New anodized colors, machined textures and mixing of materials for knobs – all can make a reel look like spinner rims on a low rider.

My small reels are the same as they were ten years ago – with one new addition this year, as I evolve away from my originals.

Those two are the Orvis Battenkill BBS II reels. They are simple, small, reliable, warrantied, affordable and they never miss a beat. The third reel that is moving into my trout driver is a Lamson Guru 1.5.

The Lamson lacks the screaming drag and reeling sound of the Battenkill, but I have come to appreciate that silence.

But since I was doing my due diligence for the old guy … I started looking around at reels, and was extremely impressed with today’s choices.

Orvis Courtesy Photo

ORVIS BATTENKILL II

Strangely, as a brand, Orvis seems to be less sexy than a lot of other brands, but still an affordable choice.They run about $160-dollars, and have recently been updated.

REDDINGTON ZERO

I looked at the Reddington line of reels, and really like the price and look of the ZERO reel. I am not sure what they are made of, but they are a cast reel, and lightweight.

Reddington Zero reel courtesy photo Reddington

  • Lightest reel in its class
  • Unmachinable, unique die-cast construction
  • Super-lightweight design with quick-change spool
  • Spring loaded, clicker drag system
  • Easily converts to left or right hand retrieve
  • Twin molded, soft-touch ergonomic handles
  • Large arbor design speeds retrieve and reduces line memory
  • Nylon reel case included
  • Lifetime warranty

SAGE 2200

The Sage 2200 is at the bottom of the Sage fly reel line, at $170-dollars, but doesn’t look like the bottom of anything. This is a great looking reel, and has a good deal of technology under the hood. It’s twice the price of the ZERO, but looks like it too.

Courtesy Sage Fly Fishing Sage 2200

  • SCS drag design
  • Large arbor for fast line pick up; Concave arbor for greater strength and capacity
  • Large machined one revolution drag knob with numbered and detented settings
  • Ergonomic machined aluminum handle
  • Easy conversion from left- to right-hand retrieve
  • Neoprene and embroidered ballistic nylon reel case

ALLEN FLY FISHING Trout II Reel Series

These are good looking reels, and at a good price. Cork drag gets my attention every time.The price point is right in line with the competition here at $140-dollars. Seeing as he’s retiring from UNT, the green anodizing should be the cat’s meow.

Courtesy Allen Fly Fishing

  • Fully machined aluminum spool and frame
  • Cork disc drag system
  • large arbor spool
  • Click retrieve and click drag
  • Bearing-less disc drag system
  • Easily converts from left to right hand retrieve

WATERWORKS LAMSON

Probably the lowest on the totem pole is the Waterworks Lamson Remix model. It is the bottom line Lamson, and I guess I have just been spoiled by my Gurus look and feel. The Remix just looks chunky, but if you need a big, easy to find drag knob – think about this one at $180-dollars.

It’s their cast reel, and I had problems with the finish on one of these — they show punishment very quickly.

Lamson Courtesy Photo

  • format: Large Arbor
  • materials: Machined 6061 Aluminum Case, Pressure Cast Aluminum Spool
  • finish: Type II Anodize Case, Polyurethane Spool
  • drag: Sealed Conical Drag
  • 80% US Manufactured, 100% Idaho Built

CONCLUSION – For a classic size, look and sound – it’s the Orvis Battenkill. For a modern looking reel, I like the Reddington ZERO, but wonder what it is actually cast from? Next to that, it is hard to go wrong with the Sage 2200 series. The Allen Fly Fishing reel is probably the toughest reel – it’s machined, while all the others are cast, but that does make it hefty. If you want a splash of sentimental color, don’t hesitate to do the Allen Reel.

TUNE IN FOR PART 2 – Fly Line and accessorizing for safety.

Texas Fly Fishing Events Piling On Again This Year

| January 16, 2018

Let the good lines roll!

Announcements are flowing like sand through the hourglass now, and as is normal for the Texas Fly crowd, there is another scheduling overlap again this year. Now that they’ve shot themselves in THE OTHER foot, I can’t help but wonder how it is these things happen?

In the first place, the general events (non-trout related) occur at what is typically, and selfishly slow time of the fly fishing year – a slack tide of slow if you know what I mean? People around here may be talking fly, but they certainly aren’t throwing fly.

Here’s what I have so far, and if I miss your event, be sure to holler in my face as soon as possible. I am always glad to share information about this sport you live and love, and if you are so bold and focused as to want to ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT here, we can talk about that as well.

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE

The first event on the 2018 fly fishing calendar is right around the proverbial corner. Whoever comes up with a descriptive name that isn’t “fest.” or “festival” gets a prize! First, we retired “Conclave,” and now we work to retire “festival,” and the word “ambassador” from all fly lexicon forever and ever amen.

Texas Fly Fishing Expo

Based on the dead website http://txflyfishexpo.com/ – it appears that event is now dead in the water. So long. We hardly knew ya’.

TroutFest 2018

February 16-18, 2018

http://www.grtu.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/GRTU_SDE_2018.pdf

Sometimes a “sleeper” event – one loaded with great stuff and great information. That speaker list looks a little worn thin, except for Chris Wood, who I have traveled with in the past. His perspective, and speaking ability, and knowledge make for a good lecture.

Texas Freshwater Fisheries – Fly Fish Texas

https://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/visit/specialevents/flyfishtx/

February 24, 2018

This event was hurting for attendance and vendors last year – in my humble opinion. And without any kind of celebrity of note to draw crowds, it may be a little of an underdog this year as well. The February 24 date is questionable as well – with the winter we are having right now.

NOTE: Unfortunately, this event uses synthetic trout as their main attraction – setting up kids to fish for these little fish, and not really pairing up adults with walk-in kids to get their hands on fly rods. A lot more catching and hooking of kids would be accomplished with sunfish as the attraction, instead of those poor seasonal trout. This event feels like it is about ready for an overhaul.

Trinity River Water District – Flyfest 2018

March 10, 2018

http://trwdflyfest.com/

Along the Trinity River in Fort Worth, Texas.

This event has size and gearth to it. The location is eye-opening, and if you are local to North Texas, you are sure to run into someone you know.

Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Expo

March 10-11, 2018

http://txflyfishingfestival.org/

This event a couple of heavy hitters, and it costs heavy as well. I like that. I think in the microbrewery rich region of North Texas, they attracted three different beer makers last year. Pretty pathetic. But then, micro brews are so 2013 anyway, aren’t they? There are some speakers of note this year, and although I have never fished with any of them (you know who you are), I bet we can learn a little something new from some of these folks.

When it comes to talking, I would have expected to hear from Stephen Woodcock out of Fort Worth, but obviously he’s tied up at the TRWD Flyfest going on at the same time in Fort Worth.

NOTE: This goes on over two days, so you can do both this one and the Forth Worth event while you are not hanging out in Denton. You can bet the locals won’t be promoting ANYTHING local to local fly fishers.

Ladyfish 2018 Women’s Fly Fishing Festival

March 24, 2018

http://livingwatersflyfishing.com/ladyfish/

Round Rock Texas

Sponsored by City of Round Rock, and Living Waters Fly Fishing in Round Rock, Texas. This is the first ever of this particular event, and guess what? it’s calling itself a “festival” too.

It looks like your best contact is Living Waters Fly Fishing.


LATER THIS WEEK, I will publish the current rundown of fly fishing tournaments. It is always a short list, and with my working weekends, I won’t be the backbone of any Lake Ray Ray Roberts tournament anytime soon. Maybe in my next decade, I will have that freedom once again.

Or maybe I will just start an event called “Festival! Festival!” and retire now!

 

A Bloody Good Chum Line Bayou City Angler

| September 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

SALT IS SALT

 

Bayou City Angler Houston Fly FishingHot fly fishing was the main topic at Bayou City Angler (BCA) in Houston, Texas, yesterday afternoon. And the audience, employees and customers at BCA didn’t need any help whipping themselves into a frenzy over the coastal fly fishing scene with some duck hunting talk thrown in just to increase the volume. It was a chum slick of information, and we were all feeding.

Bayou City Angler Fly Fishing Houston

I did try to settle myself down a bit by looking at all the merchandise at BCA,  and I am very impressed with the inventory that has been built up at BCA since the last time I was in the store. Not only is there good inventory, they have a supply of discontinued Sage rods – right out front and CLEARLY marked down. BCA is also making room for their new fall clothing (out with the summer stuff), and an incredible series of markdowns on the reels we always want but never can afford – Abel and Hatch for example! It looks to me like BCA is establishing a name and place for itself in the fourth largest city in the Country. They also have the most extensive inventory of fly lines I have ever seen in one store, and smartly encourage buyers to try out any rod they are serious about purchasing – three reels per weight, with three different fly lines to help in decision making for line as well as rod.

CLYDE HAS A NEW GUIDE

I was there to pitch the next leg of the Clyde trip (Clyde – the car made famous in Drake magazine) to our old friend Danny Scarborough who now works at Bayou City Angler. Danny, being a wiser man that many I know, has sole possession and control of Clyde, and you can be sure it won’t get hung up sitting in Houston for six months of … let’s just say he won’t be wasting anybody’s time, or throwing me under the bus (still have Dallas tire tracks across my back) – unless I fall asleep in the middle of the road down south. That would be justified.

Clyde Drake Magazine

Danny couldn’t keep his redfish stories from Tuesday out of the Wednesday chum, and not only was that shared information great, so was the growing knowledge of snook showing up “everywhere” in Texas now. Put simply, the level of conversation and free trade of information was like a good shot of top-shelf. In my mind, I thought, “this is how it’s supposed to be.” Heck, when you’re as close to the action as these guys are – THIS IS HOW IT BETTER BE! Not a lot a talk, but talk backed by action – doing every chance they get to do it.

Of course there’s the bad with the good and ugly. Grass carp are being caught out in the bay. The number of commons in the bayous is a fraction of pre Harvey scale count. I am sure the guys that like to kill off these fish in the Houston Bayous are happy. We know they will be back. The mold is settling into the homes inundated by the Harvey floods.

I guess this means I will be forced to commute to Houston on a much more regular basis to get a shot of the real chum, and get back to the level of energy that started this adventure. God knows, I am having a hard time finding a good chum-line in North Texas. Salt is salt – it brings its own energy with it. It heals. Friends have heard me say this, but let me just tell all of you sitting at home – this is a great place for a fly fisher to LIVE.

IFTD Wrap Up of Retail Winners

| July 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

2017 IFTD Show Winners

We all know how these fly folks like to sell stuff, right? Well every year they get together and find new ways to entice the fly public into what are now called, “upgrades” to the great stuff they/we already have. By now, we would think a fly rod has reached the apex of quality and craftsmanship, BUT NO, there are always new improvements to be made! And here the show winners are …

 

A complete listing of the winners and categories is below:

Men’s Wading Boots: Orvis — Ultralight Wading Boot

Men’s Waders: Simms Fishing Products — G3 Wader

Men’s Outerwear: Simms Fishing Products – G3 Guide Tactical Jacket

Men’s General Apparel: Simms Fishing Products — SolarFlex Armor Shirt

Women’s Waders: Orvis — Women’s Ultralight Waders

Women’s Outerwear: Orvis — Pro Wading Jacket

Women’s General Apparel: Simms Fishing Products — Women’s BiComp LS Shirt

Women’s Wading Boots: Korkers, LLC — Women’s Dark Horse Boot

Accessories Under $100: Fishpond, Inc. — Quickshot Rod Holder

Gift Items Under $100: DeYoung Studios — DeYoung Gift Wrap

Fly Rod — Freshwater: Scott Fly Fishing — The G Series

Fly Rod — Saltwater: Sage Fly Fishing — Salt HD

Reel – Freshwater: Abel — SDF (Sealed Drag Fresh)

Reel – Saltwater: Nautilus Reels — GTx

Fly Line — Freshwater: RIO Products — IT Single-Handed Spey 3D

Fly Line — Saltwater: RIO Products — Direct Core Flats Pro

Leader / Tippet: RIO Products — Big Nasty

Fly Hooks: Stealth Fly Products — Stealth Hooks & System

Fly Tying Vices & Tying Tools: TMC Magnetic Bobbin, Fine — Umpqua Feather Merchants

Fly Tying Materials: Fair Flies — Composite Brushes

Youth Product: Redington — Minnow Outfit

Fly Pattern — Freshwater: Flymen Fishing Company — Double Barrell Bass Bug

Fly Pattern — Saltwater: Umpqua Feather Merchants — Chicone’s Tuscan Bunny

Fly Box / Storage System: Umpqua Feather Merchants — UPG HD Mag Midge Fly Box

Eco-friendly Product: Fishpond, Inc. — Submersible Backpack

Luggage (Bags, Backpacks): Fishpond, Inc. — Grand Teton Rolling Bag

Entertainment / Education: Stackpole Books / Lyons Press — Orvis Fly Fishing Guide

Chest Pack / Vest: Fishpond, Inc. — Submersible Lumbar Pack

Boat / Personal Watercraft: Creek Company — T. Rex 9.8 Mini Drifter

Fly Rod Choice For North Texas Carp and Largemouth Bass

| June 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

My Choices for boat rods fly fishing for carp and bass North Texas

Opinions on fly rods are, like opinions in general; you know … everybody has one. The reality is the best rod for you is the one that best matches your cast. If you cast enough, I mean a WHOLE LOT, the rod matters a lot less than the ability to change rods – from a mountain 2 weight to a saltwater 12 weight. If your cast is locked and loaded, you could do both rods (and anything in between) in the same day – and the action of the rod is inconsequential.

I am on the water Tuesday morning, so enjoy this and I will get the continuation of this video out (the 360 Nikon maybe) later this week. I apparently had two cameras going (double live GONZO!), and may just run both for your comparisons sake. This Nikon 360 software is nothing short of a nightmare!