Monday Morning Melt

| December 26, 2022

Quick Warmup This Week With Wind

The ice finally cracked on the cattle trough, out back on Christmas morning 2022. By noon, we had the house ready to receive an assortment of family, and the round sheet of ice had pulled away from the sides of the galvanized round trough and was not even strong enough to hold a coffee cup. I had to test it.

The wind had died down, and the slow peeling away of layers of personal insulation was beginning. The long handles were off a day earlier, and I was having trouble justifying my coveralls. The heat was holding, and flushing fashion, or lack thereof, for the family gathering seemed appropriate.

This day contained another first. I have reported many of these here in the last fifteen years, but this first? It actually had more than one first. First, there came a new life in the family, still hidden inside but anxiously awaited … my wife’s DNA would continue from her son to his son. And then there were the bittersweet thoughts of my Mom who departed earlier this year. Two firsts that are all part of that circle, the one that always closes, sooner or later.

Blue Monday

It was supposed to be a Blue River Monday today, but as rarely happens (to me anyway), a last minute cancellation means the planning and preparation for a Monday trip to Oklahoma gets stampeded into the week ahead. It is rare to get a friend’s last-minute cancellation, but there are some who know the consequences.

So the week progresses, and while I am still geared for the Blue River in Oklahoma, I will be fighting some serious winds when that day comes later this week. As you know, there’s a big difference between fighting a fifteen-mile-per-hour wind with a three weight rod, and fighting it with an eight weight rod! I have walked off that Oklahoma River in these conditions in the past. Defeat is always a possibility.

The Year

This is a year where I have done absolutely no promotions of fly fishing products for the last minute shopping that thoughtful survivors of fly fishing relationships tend to attempt for thoughtful holiday gift giving. But, there are a few things that I have this year, and a few things I still want to try – should a magic Santa still be circling above … or is that a buzzard I see?

I haven’t had much time with my newest fly rod, and the first heavy rod I have purchased in years – the Hardy Zane 8-weight one-piece fly rod. In fact, because of the recentness of this rod joining my salt quiver, it has yet to catch a fish! That doesn’t mean I can’t tell you something about it though!

The Hardy Zane Pro 8-weight “boat rod” is simply fantastic. The lack of ferrules make the feel of the cast reach my senses in ways I never felt before. A one-piece rod is just one of those things you have to try (not necessarily buy!) at some point in your fly fishing journey. The speed of the rod is something I am still reckoning with. My loops were the size of a skiff at first – wide open and full of air. But the more aggressive I became with it, I could feel it start to give back to me. With a much more even power curve than my beloved Sage Maverick, it just took a little more to power (for me) to get down into that curve. The result? The loops tightened, the line lengthened and the accuracy still came quick and sharp – at distance. It’s hard to see where one goes after a rod like this. I think this Zane is a “true” 8-weight rod, but I can see that some experimentation with fly lines could drastically change the rod’s overall performance. Lines are becoming so much more important to me these days …

To be fair I am going to put a new Thomas & Thomas Sextant 8-weights in my Easter Basket in 2023. Make no mistake, the Hardy rod is built in Korea. But the workmanship is still equal to the best I have ever owned, and only time will tell how well this caliber rod in the Lower Laguna Madre continues to fight.

3-tand reels
-Texas Salty Dogs may want to get familiar with this name.-

The other gear intrigue was brought to me by a friend who preaches the 3-Tand fly fishing reels – as their last man standing on a desert island reel. I had seen them in searching, and they professed to be the affordable answer to saltwater punishment. I finally got my hands on a couple of them over the holidays.

They are very tank-like which is to say … function trumps form (although not an ugly reel by any means) for the sake of durability and weight. And with the endorsement of my Florida fly fishing friends, who say this reel can take a licking and keep on ticking? I hope to match my Thomas & Thomas rod with a 3-Tand Reel this Easter. A couple of notes: 1) 3-Tand has a sealed drag. 2) The “full-off” position on the drag knob? It still has some tension, which if you think about it? It is the most logical thing I have seen in a fly reel in a very long time. 3) I did not get a chance to really dig into the drag, or how to switch from L-to-R retrieve. As simple as the reel appears on the outside, I am thinking these questions may have easy answers. All I know is, I need something that is ready to be pounded on the granite, and these reels may just be up to the task.

Future Product Reviews

I do have some products I need to tell you about in 2023. They are mostly related to the rigors of outdoor photography, and protection for camera gear in harsh situations. There is a friend who just pulled the trigger on the new Chittum Challenger 18 Skiff, and I am also doing some work on a friend’s Hells Bay HPX-T skiff. I have some insights on how mixed messages get to these skiff owners, and why this may happen from time-to-time.

As the weather warms up in the Lower Laguna Madre, I will be trying out some night fly fishing with the help of my new NEBO fishing lights.

And if you are into surfing? What can I say? I have two very old wetsuits I will be zipping up soon, we will see if they are actually rotten to the core, and fall apart at first zip. A loaner long board, and some nice winter swells are just what the therapist ordered for the remains of this winter.

The search starts anew for a kayak worthy of the Lower Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico, yes we just may go BTB if we can find the right ride. I’ll be holding onto my Old Town Sportsman 119 for the resaca research, but I have seen so many kayaks around the Jetties that I feel the need (like Lefty said), “I got to get me some of that.” Right now, I am saying that about the Cobra line of seaworthy kayaks.

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Category: Body-Mind-Soul, Equipment, Fly Reel, Fly Rods, Fly Shops, Life Observed, Saltwater Fly Fishing Texas

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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