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Monday Afternoon Sidewalk

| June 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

Good Monday afternoon! Welcome to the Sidewalk of life.

This is the day and place where any and all topics are fair game, but the fairest of all if fly fishing. If you are only here on Mondays, you may have missed the fact I got blown off the water last week, and also got sent home with my tail between – from Lake Texoma. So much rejection in a single week … makes me wonder … what the heck is the deal!

I always relish the excuses when out fly fishing with someone else, or even the excuses I make to myself when no one else is there to tell. It’s too hot, cold, early, late, windy, calm, clear, cloudy, wrong fly, wrong line … the list is as extravagant as needed to put my spin on missing the target completely with a shotgun.

Yes, we got to put eyes on some carp Thursday before being blown completely off the lake, BUT, we couldn’t get them interested. The VARIABLES were too great, and the actual number of fish too few – I was back on the trailer by 1-pm. The day before on Texoma? I had all kinds of proof positive that Texoma was in the FULL-ON position, including a small armada of boats sitting just off the riverbed … sitting and sitting … with a bunch of perfectly straight rods on board. I was (here comes the excuse) too late perhaps, as that armada was staked out  when I got there just as the 7-am chime rang.

TEXOMA WAS so slow in fact, I decided to pound some rocks for smallmouth bass, but again (here comes the excuse) the water was pretty warm for that kind of action. Once I realized the clock had struck and I was a fat pumpkin, I headed for the park on the Oklahoma side, and low-and-behold there were hundreds and hundreds of buffalo, drum, common and grass carp (huge) up shallow rooting around, and scaring out in huge groups pushing huge wakes. Not a fly was eaten, I assume (here comes the excuse) because they were in some kind of spawn mode — at least that’s what all the play looked like. IF YOU want to go after them, contact me and I will give the exact coordinates for that location. Texoma is a big lake.

RAY ROBERTS was harder to believe. All I can honestly say is; where there was recently water, there is no more. It APPEARS THAT the lake is dropping quickly – due to heat evaporation or consumption. And the water that’s left? Boiling temperature can’t be far off. We had two storms that went right over the lake – early Wednesday and later Thursday, but really? Winds are a problem once again this week, but if I can get out early enough, I will do that OR hit the road for some small pond action somewhere.

I FEEL THE NEED, THE NEED FOR TUG! And I want to get that story on my new Axiom II TFO Fly Rod done and in the queue as well.

Thanks for reading. I am driving straight toward major changes in my schedule coming in July, changes you will appreciate as opportunities and avenues for information will be blown wide open. More on that news as the countdown begins on about the fifteenth of this month. Needless to say, life changing events forthcoming (once again). Let me predict: I’ll be bothering you more than ever!!

Friday Texas Fly Fishing Report

| June 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

Weather a Big Variable This Week

Folks in Dallas are still picking up the pieces after a severe storm pelted the area with huge hail and damaging winds early Wednesday morning. I believe they estimated the damage at $400-million, with 25-thousand cars and 40-thousand homes taking the brunt of golf ball to baseball sized hail.

The strangeness doesn’t end there. Following my own advice, I skipped past the edge of that Wednesday storm that rained on Lake Ray Roberts, and went on to Texoma to try and find the striper action. All I found was an armada of boats, tightly packed, and from what I could tell – a lot of straight rods. And all my electronics showed was a vast underwater nothingness, from the dam outward. I was doing a submarine dodging zig-zag to try and locate fish wherever they were, but their hide-and-seek was better than me. Water temperatures were hovering around 80-degrees, so there wasn’t much that I could find along the rocky shores either. It was just plain slow. I did find a huge school of buffalo grazing on the Oklahoma side in a strange mode I have never seen before – shallow on the shore much like common carp do during spawn. In fact, they had every characteristic of spawning carp – especially the NOT EATING characteristic.

Thursday on Lake Ray Roberts, I wasn’t even allowed to take out my frustration on carp. All my searching on the west side only showed me that the lake has been dropping like a rock. And that is the only explanation I can come up with for the lack of carp – at least on the west side. The wind kicked up huge, so we were not even able to run to the east side, and by the end of Thursday? Another damaging storm cell made its way right down the middle of Denton, Texas, and on south to Dallas once again. Strange days indeed. Fortunately we had given up the ghost around 1-pm, so that serious weather was never a factor on the water. Otherwise, there would be a much different story to tell …

There’s no time for a YouTube video report today, and with all the construction noise around the house, it would be next to impossible to create the show – without major interruptions. So we will come back at you next week, with a full report, and maybe finally a chance to get the TFO Axiom II on the water and onto fish. That is a taller order than I ever expected!

FLY FISHING ACROSS TEXAS

From what I can glean, the saltwater picture is becoming more dispersed, and difficult since the heat kicked in with force along the coast. The main idea is now to know your tides and tidal movements. Fish the usual areas on the incoming, and hit the constrictions (guts and drainages) on the outgoing. Tides are running at night, so that’s your main problem now.

It seems like Falcon Lake is right on track with plenty of big fish being caught, and tons of sand bass as well. The other highlight is over in Southeast Texas (near Houston), and that is a lake I have heard a lot about for awhile – Somerville near Brenham, Texas. I have not heard anyone stop talking about that lake for several months now. It MUST BE on. Generally, you are looking at a summer pattern locking in on Texas lakes.

Have another great weekend! And we will see you bright and early Monday Morning on the Sidewalk of Fly Life.

Texas Fly Fishing Report 060118

| June 1, 2018 | 1 Comment

Where to Fly Fish in Texas Axiom 2 Fly Rod Tease

Hello to those of you who still read! I am glad you read, and hope you also watch this new Texas Fly Fishing Report that covers Texas – once over lightly. That is really all we need isn’t it?

Anyway, have a watch, and if you have anything to add for next week you can text or e mail that information to me. My deadline for including your fish photos and / or words is 1-pm Fridays.

At ten years and counting, I also count the blessings brought by the Texas Fly Caster Website effort. I have met a lot of people and done a lot of things that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. We still tell stories, even fly fishing stories, just like they happened. It must be the journalist in me that has finally emerged after hundreds of thousands of words … looking back that’s true.

There’s never a shortage of fly fishing stories, true stories, stories that are as good as any fiction … for the most part. I have plenty of stories in the can, and no way to do so many more in this life of need. But if you have a manageable story that doesn’t require plane tickets, guide bills, housing and all the trappings – I am here to listen, and RESPOND.

Thanks for watching and reading. I hope this weekend is better than the last.

Texas Fly Fishing Report 030918 – Spring Has Sprung as Dams Draw Down

| March 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

TEXAS FLY FISHING REPORT 030918

 

The Texas Fly Fishing Report is back from the winter break, rightfully so and ready to go! We have plenty of fishing, fly fishing action, to report today. The report’s home base is in North Texas, so in such a large state conditions will vary wildly.

What we are experiencing in this part of Texas is a fantastic pattern for fly fishers that starts below a lot of the lake dams. Numerous lakes are beyond conservation pool as this report goes out, and authorities are releasing water to bring those lake levels down. I have documented those releases, and the fish caught during those releases, over several years (beginning in 2010).

This phenomenon never happened during the drought years (about 4 years) as you may recall, and I expected us to continue along the downward drought spiral going into the Texas fishing season in 2018. But we have had surprisingly good slow rains that have saturated the ground, pushed back the drought map (away from North Texas), filled the lakes and now come the lake releases in advance of the real rain during the “rainy months.”

Right now, the fly fishing is absolutely fantastic on these releases – for the most part. All we have to do is find a releases, like the one at Ray Roberts Dam, and go throw a few good tight loops. Sure, these places (especially the Ray Roberts Dam) are overrun with conventional fishermen who finally found their pot of gold, and you will see them there day-after-day, in the same spot, slaughtering fish day-after-day. And they leave behind a mountain of trash and submerged lines in the water to tangle and lose flies on, but if you can handle the crowds and the carnage? Well, like you see in the video; these releases can be one big box of chocolates. The big bass are coming in, the sand bass are up and full-on running, and if you sprinkle in some hybrid action … what’s so hard about that?

DETAILS

You will want a 7 or 8 weight rod to be able to fight these fish in huge current, and be able to turn them toward you.

I like a reel I can count on – with good drag and a big enough spool to manage line to ALWAYS go to reel. Going to the reel is very important in these situations, and that is because line gets caught on everything in riprap fly fishing – rocks, fences, bushes and everything else we find in these dirty situations.

I am using a fluorocarbon leader with either an 8 or 10 pound tip – remember you can control depth by what your tip is – bigger is shallower.

Year after year, the red over white Clouser catches these fish. But your hook needs to be something extreme, like a Tiemco 600SP, or a circle hook, which I have gone to to allow fish to hook themselves on a slack drift. The circle hooks are great, and do exactly what they are designed to do – and cost a fraction of what super-sharp normal hooks cost.

Where I am fishing, the fish are in very tight bunches, so you will have to search and fan cast until you find them. Once you find them, don’t go looking elsewhere – keep going back to the spot you found. The spot you see in the video, for example, was about 10 feet across!

New Mexico Fly Rod Reel Outfitting

| January 17, 2018 | 1 Comment

Choosing the Right Rod and Reel For New Mexico Small Streams

New Mexico FlagI 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.