Saturday, August 29, 2015

Trico Hatch, fishing for Big Browns on small Flies

Trico Hatch, fishing for Big Browns on small Flies.

I often fish with buddies or guys in the fly fishing industry of sorts.  Fishing in a group is so different than fishing solo.   As luck would have it, I had a break in my schedule, so I planned a quick trip to some local water to chase big browns.  When one fishes often enough, they will eventually have one of those amazing days on the water that we as fly fishers consider to be “Epic”. 

Arriving in the blackness of early morning, I got all geared up with that blanket of stillness and quite that only comes in the very early morning hours while in the wilderness.  No crickets, no bird songs, just the distant sound of water following its course down river.  I turn on the headlamp which makes stepping around sagebrush and boulders to reach the river’s edge a bit more easy.  I find a spot riverside to sit until the sun peeks above the ridge.  Not able to see, I focus my attention to the subtle sounds that surround me.  Do I actually hear fish rising, or is that just my mind playing fish tricks on me…?

First light comes and I make my way into the shallow waters.  I move slow, very slow, as the darkness will still not allow me to see or track my fly for some time.  When the sun finally made itself present, I begin to hunt for heads.  The first couple of hours, I had the spot all to myself.  Lots of small Trico’s being sipped by big hungry trout.   I actually fished the same pool of water all morning.  The run was approx.. 75’ long and 8’-0” wide.  I first pulled fish from the upper section of the run and then made my way down with longer drifts and more fish.  Once I got to the end of the run (that I could reach from this position) I simply started fishing the upper section again.  I was able to hook, net and land fish after fish from this hole. 

I began the day with one small Trico, I was able to hook a few fish, but I knew that I was missing many more strikes than I could actually see.  I decided to tie on a small New Zealand wool indicator.  I mean small, the orange indicator was not much larger than my fly, but I could see the bright orange color from my casting position.  The adjustable indicator was set approx. 15” above my fly.  I was fishing a dry fly that I left untreated.  This means it was now beneath the surface of the water just a bit.  This was just the ticket needed to fool these heavily pressured fish.  The morning went as any fly fisher could hope.  Pick a fish, make a cast, hook fish, play fish, release fish.  Check fly / knots / etc.  Pick a fish, make a cast, hook fish, play fish, etc.  After about 8 fish were netted, A decent fish hit my bright orange indicator...  I quickly remove the indicator, tie on a easy to see BWO-parachute and drop my trico off the hook bend about 12-15”.  A few cast’s are made with the new setup and Bang, I pick a fish up on the BWO.  That makes me remove the Trico so I can achieve an even better drift.  A few more casts brings in a couple of decent fish on the dry.  During the course of the morning, I switched from indicator to dry / dry dropper/ zebra midge / Trico / Etc. 

It seemed if I was patient enough to check my fly and remove any moss every other cast, I was rewarded frequently with a strike.   As mentioned above, this was one of those Epic days on the river. 

Then after a couple hours of fishing, I heard the tell-tale sound of wading boots on the rounded river rocks of the bank.  I turn to see an older gentleman decked out in all the newest gear.   I let him know I would be there for the next couple of hours and he proceeded to move back into the brush to leave.  Not five minutes later, I see the man entering the water no less than 50 feet away from me.   Now, I have had my share of fish this morning so no fisher was going to taint this trip, but I was surprised to see this fisherman making his way into the water so close by me.  I continued to hook and land fish after fish.  Fish were rising right in front of the fisherman, but he was having no luck at all.  I myself have been there in the past, so I informed the man of the fly type and size I was using.  22-24 Trico spinners.    He said thanks and made a fly change.  He made a few more cast in his immediate vicinity, but the fish stopped rising…  He put them down with bad casts and unnatural drifts, simply put poor presentation.  

I was still fishing the same pool of fish with much success.  I noticed that he was getting closer and closer to me.   It seemed he took one step for each cast that he made.   At this time, he was now making long casts, much too long for anyone to get a proper drift.  Now he was putting my fish down.  Happy for the day I had and not wanting to end the day on a bad note, I made my way upriver towards my rig.  Normally I would be more outspoken, but this day had been great, and I had plans to leave early before I even got to the river.  I started the short walk upriver to my rig.  Like most fly fishers, I love throwing big dry flies when I can.  I remove the 5X tippet from my furled leader and tie on a length of 4x.  A large hopper pattern is tied on and fished it tight to the grassy bank.  Second cast gave me a decent brown.   I fished for a few more minutes, but in reality I spent much time watching this other fisherman who pushed his way into my hole and simultaneously put all the fish down.  No fish were rising… I so wanted to go give this guy a lesson in both fly fishing etiquette as well as fly presentation.   With only ten minutes of fishing, he shut the entire 75’ feet of water down.

I will fully admit I am not the best fly caster out there, but I was able to fish the same pod of rising fish for four hours, then this guy made a few bad casts and the fish simply stopped feeding.  I often get asked about our leaders spooking or scaring fish because the leader is not transparent…  The answer is a definitive NO; Cutthroat furled leaders do not spook fish.  Because our leaders land so soft and gentle on the water, you can make multiple casts to rising trout and never put them down.   Now if you make a bad cast and the fly line plops on the water with a loud slap, no leader is going to help you.

As I climb out of the canyon, I see a vehicle parked literally 2 feet from mine.  There is only one trail from the parking spot to the fishing hole, this means this guy had plans of busting in on me from the beginning.  I try not to get preachy about fishing, but guys like this really annoy the heck out of me.   They give many of the other decent respectful angers a bad name.  

In the end, I have a truly successful day on the water.  I will be back soon.   I can only hope the fisherman I encountered continued to have a rough day out there… Simply put, he deserved it. 

I was fishing with a 50" Dry Fly Furled Leader on a 7'-3" Bamboo Rod. 4'-0" of 5x tippet stepped down to 2'-0" of 5.5X trout hunter tippet.  The strike indicator system I was using was the New Zealand Strike Indicator.  This leader / tippet / indicator system is crazy impressive to fish when throwing small flies… 

Michael Morin,
Cutthroat Leader Co.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Using Cutthroat Furled Leaders during your casting Certification...

We have recently been asked by numerous fly fishers if our leaders can be used during Casting Certification through the Federation of Fly Fishers.  While I was at the 50th Anniversary in Bend Oregon last week, this very topic came up.  The answer is YES, you can use our Furled Leaders to take the test.

The only Leader requirements for the test is as follows:

Casting Instructor Performance Test Equipment Needed

(you must provide own)
  • Rod: 9' maximum
  • Line: #7 floating maximum
  • Leader: 7 1/2' minimum with yarn fly
Most guys that have taken the test with our leaders use a 68" (5'-8") dry fly leader and add tippet to reach 
the 7'-6" required length.

68" Dry Fly Furled Leader

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Father & Son Fishing Trip...

Early August, my son and I made the long bumpy drive to one of our favorite fishing spots here in Idaho.  The jeep was packed with gear, tents, and lots of anticipation.  We would be chasing Cutthroat Trout mostly, with the chance of a few Bull-trout and hopefully the opportunity to see some spawning Salmon as well.  Camden and I have been making this trip for a few years now.  Each year, we hike deeper into the wilderness and find better fishing holes along the way.  
Camden has been lucky enough to hook, and land many a fish.  Being 9, he still learning much with each trip out.  Whom am I kidding, I have been fly fishing for 20 years and I still learn something new with each trip.

The trip started out much like we expected.  Lots of eager fish ready and willing to take a dry fly.  The first couple of days brought many a Cutthroat and a few decent Bull trout to the hand.  Camden and I decided to hike another mile or so deeper into the canyon to fish some new water.  We found a beautiful little water fall dropping into an amazing looking pool.   A mellow soft-water seam along with the white froth line was our target.  To say we were both excited and eager to throw a line is quite the understatement. 

We entered into this new water far downstream as not spook any fish.  Right where we entered the river, we netted a few small trout at the tail end of this very large hole; the hole was about 75’ long.  After making a few casts without any action, we cross the river which put us into the optimum casting position.  I was teaching Cam about fishing the close water first to keep from spooking the larger fish holding deep in the pool.  The day was going just as any fly fisher would hope. Almost every good cast would end with a strike.  Not necessary a hook-up, but a strike.    Camden noticed that my fly seemed to attract more attention than his.  He asked if he could cast my line.  I hand handed him my rod… a quality handcrafted bamboo rod from Dave Dozer of Oregon.  I know Bamboo is extremely durable, but I will admit I was a little nervous allowing my 9 yr. old to cast such a rod.  He caught a couple good fish, 13-15”, he was all smiles.  Camden moved a couple feet upriver and made a truly impressive cast.  As the line and leader lay out onto the water, a huge strike was made.   Cam yelled in excitement, I cringed at the thought of my beautiful cain rod being mishandled…  Yet, I was thrilled to see my son hook into such a beauty of a fish.

Camden sets the hook, feels the weight of such a great fish and all his training goes out the window.  He starts yelling and asking for help, for guidance, for his dad to grab the rod and land this great fish…  As a dad and as a fisherman, what should I do?  Do I help him land this fish, a fish he will remember for years to come, or do I turn this into a learning experience and have him land the fish all by himself.   Hoping of course that he is able to get the job done. 
I quickly decide to give only verbal instructions about getting the fish onto the reel.  The excitement of big fish often plays tricks on fisherman…   9 year olds are no exception.  In all the excitement, Camden actually holds the fly line with his teeth in order to quickly get the slack line onto the reel.  Just as the line is on the reel and fish feels the weight of the fly fisher, the big Cutthroat makes a run…  Here I am on the bank making loud enthusiastic recommendations.  Let go of the reel, let him run,…  no, no no, reel, reel, reel…   OK, keep pressure, oh no, let him run, hands off the reel….  This same episode was played out a couple of times before the fish was within netting distance. 

Now my son Camden is yelling at me to help him net the fish.  Over the past couple of days, prior to this fish, Cam was getting some practice of netting his own fish.  I pondered, was he ready for such a test after only a couple days of practice.   Here we are, another teaching moment.   My son had the net tethered to his shorts.   Yes, the net was being pulled down river, but it was still connected.  He so wanted dad to net this fish, 1) because prior to this year, I often did, 2), this fish was BIG.  I jumped into the water, collected his net and handed it to him.  His facial expression said it all… he was stunned, proud, scared, and simply in awe, that dad was going to make him net this fish alone.  At this time I questioned my own sanity, but I wanted Cam to have the complete experience of catching a fish of this caliper.  While giving instructions, not to chase the fish with the net, don’t come from behind, etc, etc.

After a couple of missed netting attempts, Camden finally got the fish into the net.   During the immediate seconds after the fish was netted, we almost lost him again.  Between the weight of the fish and the net along with the current, the fish almost squirmed his way back into the river.  The past couple of minutes were such a roller coaster of emotions for the both of us.  I took the rod from his hand, placed it on the ground and gave him the biggest of hugs.  We snapped a couple of pics, (no great ones) and quickly got the fish back into the water. 
We sat, we smiled, and we stared out to the river, not much was said for a few moments.  I think we both understood that a milestone had just occurred.  Both a fishing milestone, as well as a special event between father and son. 

I know how lucky and blessed I am to have a healthy child that loves spending time in the woods with dad.  Being a nine year old, I am guessing this was simply a big fish in the mind of my son.  For me, this was so much more.

A big thank you to Dave Dozer from Bamboo Pursuits for not only building such a quality rod, but helping a father and son build such great memories.

Click Here to learn more about the Handcrafted furled Leaders used on this trip.