November 19, 2014

An Ode To The Underground

Well...actually not technically an "ode"...because an ode is a poem.  And I don't write poetry.  If anything I lay down white boy B-Rabbit vs. Papa Doc in 8-Mile.  Ugh...not really...and totally off topic already...what the heck is going on again?  OK...deep breath...let's call this a "tribute post" and leave it at that.

So as I was trying to say...a few days ago Tom Chandler fired off what could be the final post at The Trout Underground for the foreseeable future...and in doing so, a little piece of me died inside.

Now I can't blame Tom.  He's been writing The Underground for almost 10 years...which might as well be 1000 in blogger years.  I think most blogs probably last 2 or 3 posts, and that may be generous.  Plus, if you read his goodbye post, his motivations are clear and sincere.

When I first started reading blogs about fly fishing...there were two that were a constant theme within everybody else's blogrolls...Moldy Chum & The Trout Underground.  Therefore when I started writing my own took a while to find my own style...and well, I'm going to be totally honest...I eventually tried to blatantly rip off emulate both of those blogs by sort of squishing them together.  Unfortunately, my writing skills are nowhere up to par with TC/TU, so this blog has evolved more into an affair of sight gags and pop culture references...somewhat of a long-form Moldy Chum, with a far more haphazard blogging cadence.  That said, I've always enjoyed (and envied) the Trout Underground from the a fanboy.


See, it's rare to find a fishing blog that can balance actual writing skill, topical references, and entertainment value so well...with just enough snark to not be over the top obnoxious and/or douchey.  Don't get me wrong, there are many good writers out in the blogosphere (I hate the phrase 'blogosphere' BTW)...but let's be honest, how many get caught up with using superfluous vocabulary words (like superfluous) that come instinctively to few for the sake of "reading" smart?  Or they ramble on and on and on and on, jibber jabbering away about something or another...far surpassing the attention span of the typical internet content consumer.  Sort of like this post is now.  Are you still there?

Those of you that have read this blog for a while also may know that I've included references to what I've called "Subterranean Trout" in some posts over time.  Whether it was in support of the campaign for inclusion of in its blogroll, to the mention of the bromance with Singlebarbed, to the time on April Fool's Day when I altered the entire visual theme and layout of Troutrageous! to match that of Trout Underground in satirical tribute...  Why?  Because the Underground was and is relevant in our little fly fishing community...and more importantly seems to transcend demographics.  Like Denzel Washington.

Heck, I think the high point of this blog was when I wrote a post that Tom actually commented on in a complimentary fashion.  It was akin to having Obi Wan tell you that he was impressed by the way you swing your lightsaber.  Thanks 'ol Ben.

(And I'd be lying if I said I didn't geostalk my Google Analytics for about a month afterward to see if any traffic came in from a certain town in Northern California after I wrote what I though might have been a subsequent good post).

Anyway, I guess my point of all this is that if it's truly riding off into the sunset, I'm gonna miss the quirky Trout Underground.  The humor...such as the escapades of Wally the Wonderdog...and fish falling from the sky.  (May he rest in peace).  The practicality...such as the ultimate fishing hat.  The causes and actual serious topics...things like internet & blogging freedoms...and the evils of Nestle Water?  I mean, who knew...I thought they made Crunch bars...which are soooo tasty by the way.  And the human touch...Tom has a beautiful family that he is rightfully proud of.

Heck Tom, I even gave Ubuntu a try because I read about it on your blog.

So I wish the former Mr. Underground luck on all of his future endeavors.  Please don't be a stranger.

See you around, (hopefully when you write just one more post...), Troutrageous! Mike.

November 9, 2014

Retractable Spike Wading Boots?

Happy November.  'Tis the season to receive a daily dose of mail order catalogs crammed into your mailbox in search of your holiday spending dollar...and also grow an impressive crop of facial hair in the name of men's health.  As if one really needs an excuse to do the latter.

Anyway, in one of said retail catalogs...I honestly don't remember which...heck, it could have even been SkyMall that was consumed on one of my recent flights...I noticed a pair of $300ish hiking/winter boots that had retractable spikes built into the sole.  You basically cranked a small knob on the back and the spikes extended out of the rubber bottomed boots on demand.  Seemed rather slick.

I dug up a non-affiliated video here...(fast forward to 0:22)

Anyway, do you think this has fishing wading boot applications?  I know since many people have made the move to sticky rubber (myself included), spikes or cleats are a mandatory accessory.  Heck, I love my Goat Head Sole Spikes in tandem with my LL Bean sticky rubber wading boots.  They're awesome.

But if you've walked from the parking lot, down the trail, down to the water, your spikes go crunch, crunch, crunch all the way down...and I'm sure you're dulling the points on them in the process.  Oh, and would one really want to spike up the bottom of your or your guide's drift boat?  Probably not.  Just some thoughts on how this technology could be valuable for fishing...given it doesn't weigh 1000 pounds.  Wading boots already tend to be Frankenstein-ish in silhouette.

Perhaps this already exists, and I'm just not "in the know."  Wouldn't be the first time.

As long as Simms, or Korkers, or Chota, or TWBC (the Troutrageous! Wading Boot Company) figures out a way to make the spikes replaceable...i.e. they screw in and out of retractable platforms...I think one might have something here.

Lord knows us fly fishermen will buy anything if properly marketed...

October 22, 2014

Wednesday Nibbles - The "Van Down By The River" Edition's been a while since I've written one of these.  Please excuse me as I blow off the dust, shake off the cobwebs, and get this rust bucket moving again...

I have to admit, I'm a bit out of the mainstream fly fishing scene.  I've been on this 100% tenkara bender for the last month or two and I'm not sure what is up, down, or otherwise out there these days in terms of rods & reels & flies that actually look like, I only visit Moldy Chum on Fridays...

Seems every fishing magazine I pick up these days is all moist and tingly about carp and two handed rods...switch rods, spey rods...all that crazy stuff.  Did you know there's a two handed tenkara rod?  Actually a few...could probably catch a carp with one if so inclined.  Check out this split grip from the mad scientists at Riverworks...

Okay, okay, okay.  I need scoop.  If I go get me one of those newfangled GoPros...can somebody show me how to make one of these RKO videos?  Like what software do I need?  Can I do it in MS Paint like everything else?  Holy crap, the comedic fly fishing applications are endless with nonsensical edits like this...nobody would be safe...

I was wondering...and this is the stupid kind of $hit I think about when I can't what would be the ultimate fishing mobile?  Yeah, I dig my Subie and do most other 50-something lesbians (no offense ladies, you're my demographic)...but I was thinking an old, inexpensive beater van of some sort that could be pimped out after the fact.  The kind you could just throw a kayak...or cot...or fly tying desk...or keg in the back along with all of your gear and bring around from place to place.  Sort of like a mobile fishing station.

Perhaps the wiener dog of transportation, the Sprinter van, would be a most awesome solution, but damn, those things can be deceptively expensive...  Maybe a "Who's the Boss?" Tony Danza primer-colored van would be the ticket...  But then my demographic would immediately shift to "creepy dudes in a vans."  Not good.  Especially in a neighborhood full of children, like the one I live in.

I did get a flier (flyer?) in the mail for the 2014 International Fly Tying Symposium the other day.  It was one of my favorite events to attend back in the day when I lived in Pennsylvania (it's in North Jersey).  If you're not in the know, at least a gazillion fly tyers get invited...most from the US, but some from beyond our borders (that's what makes it "international")...they tie stuff at tables lined up around the perimeter of the show hall...and you get to walk around, watch, and ask questions...

"Do you prefer ceramic bobbins with your horsehair thread...?"  

"What gauge wire are you using on your nymphtruders...?"  

"Does Clear Cure Goo burn if you get it...down there...?"  

You know, geeky stuff like that...

Plus, there are a bunch of vendors in the middle of the hall selling all sorts of wares...there's nothing better than rooting through a bin full of questionable feathers, factory second beads, and left over Christmas tinsel.  Really, it is fun.  No joke.  Like trying to find the prize at the bottom of the cereal box even though you know it'll probably suck (they don't do that anymore, right?).

Two things of note this year...  1) They're inviting folks from the 51st state this year.  Welcome Canada!  For real.  No jokes about hockey, igloos, or the propensity to say "Eh" allowed I guess.  That's a shame.  And 2) There's going to be a fiberglass rod casting competition.  And where's there's fiberglass, there's guest judge Cameron Mortenson.  Fly fishing social media royalty in the house...TFM represent!  So go check out the rods and bug Cam for free stuff...I bet he'll have at least some stickers...

Last but not least (cue the trumpets) BLOG LOVE!

My new blog fetish crush is a blog from Japan called: ぺたうろの毛鉤釣りと 愉快な仲間たちの日記 逆さ毛鉤巻き動画.  Got it?

Seriously, it's a pretty fun tenkara-ish blog to follow around, although I really don't expect my readers to take to it since it's written in Japanese.  Maybe if you can tolerate broken "Google Translate" English it'll be up your alley.  I just like looking at pictures in posts like THIS and trying to figure out what's going on.  Regardless, it's pretty rad, and probably one of the only Japanese fishing blogs that doesn't have either ridiculously tiny fonts, excessive images of wacky cartoon characters participating in hijinks, or the combination of the two.  There's actually some really good fishing reports if you go back in time a month...great pictures of streams and fish...

Well, that's it...enjoy your Wednesday...I got a van to buy.

October 21, 2014

Sunday In Rocky Mountain National Park

I never wrote a post about my last day of the Tenkara Summit weekend...aka fishing in the Park on a Broncos bye-week Sunday...

Unlike prior Summits that I had attended, the Sunday following the conference was more of a "free for all" fishing day.  The unofficial, official Summit outing was along Boulder Creek, and the Tenkara USA crew was going to seek people out during the day, drop in, and fish with them, give tips, etc...  Me, we'll I kinda went on my own, bypassing the Boulder Creek outing for a solo trip up in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I'm not gonna lie, I didn't care about the potential for crowds, I just wanted to fish and see some elk.

It was a gorgeous, somewhat brisk morning, and for better or worse, there were a ton of people in the park that day. I couldn't find a place to park at any of the trailheads, but did find a spot to pull off on the side of the road.  It made for a bit longer walk to and from the water than I had hoped, but it was definitely worth it.

I had an absolute blast fishing the Big Thompson River near Fern Lake Trail.  It wasn't difficult fishing, but the brown & brook trout were more than accommodating.  They especially seemed to like the white hackled, light bodied kebari I was tossing that day.

There were probably a ton of other spots to go fish in the park, but as I mentioned before, I really wanted to see the elk, and during the drive in, they were out in the Moraine Park meadows bugling up a storm.  Literally.  Some rain clouds started to roll in on my fishing outing, so I packed up the gear and headed back to the parked car to do some wildlife viewing before the rain started.  I was fortunate to get a lot of that in amid the drizzle.


Simply stunning.  My sub-par pictures don't do the beauty of this area justice.  I'd really like to get back and make a vacation of just exploring the park.  It's a truly special place...and what an awesome way to end this four day Colorado tenkara adventure!

October 15, 2014

Tenkara USA Forum "Soft Hackle" Theme Fly Swap

Over the summer, the Tenkara USA forum hosted a "Soft Hackle" themed fly swap.  While the stereotypical tenkara sakasa kebari might fall into the category of a soft hackle wet fly, the tyers in this swap were not limited to creating reverse hackle patterns.  As such, the swap yielded a little of both.

Everybody was to receive two flies from each participant for a total of 14 in your box (you didn't tie for yourself).  Most tied two different, I went a little rogue and tied two of the to lose to a tree and the other to catch fish with...

Since it's been about a week since everybody received their flies back in the mail, I figured it would be okay to show off some of the patterns here, as I've done with other fly swaps in the past.  I just think they're neat to look at...

Hotspot Sakasa Kebari
(Chris "Kiwi" Kuhlow)

Purple Henthorn Spider
(Chris "Kiwi" Kuhlow)

Double Reverse Hackle
(Robert Olson)

(Robert Olson)

Silk Spider Green
(Mike Shaffer "Gentle Shepherd")

Silk Spider Pink
(Mike Shaffer "Gentle Shepherd")

Unnamed Fly

Unnamed Fly

#8 Gujo

#12 Thread Eye

Unnamed Fly

Unnamed Fly

Dark Kebari

Bead-head Pheasant Tail

Swamp Ape Kebari (x2)
(Yours Truly)

Thanks to everyone that participated, they are all awesome specimens.  I hope you get your box of flies wet and in fish mouths soon.  I sure know I plan on doing so!

October 13, 2014

Tenkara With Ike - #tenkarawithike

One of my favorite non-fishing blogs over the last few years is a Philadelphia sports blog called "I Want To Go To The Zoo With Roy Halladay," or Zoo With Roy (ZWR), for short.  It is a blog that went up shortly after the Philadelphia Phillies signed ace pitcher Roy Halladay in the 2010 off-season.  The blog started as a simple, yet unlikely concept, to get Roy Halladay to go to the Philadelphia Zoo with the author...

Over the years, the blog evolved into much more, satirizing & lampooning the entire Philly sports scene (and their opponents) with quick wit and a ton on MS Paint the point that following his retirement prior to the 2014 season, Roy Halladay became a fan of the blog...and, well, it actually happened...

So with that, and an innocent Twitter interaction this past Friday night, my half-assed, "I Want To Go Tenkara Fishing with Mike Iaconelli," or Tenkara With Ike (TWI), campaign has begun...

Those with Twitter accounts, please don't be shy about letting him know about it either... 

October 12, 2014

The 2014 Tenkara Summit Recap

There have been a handful of 2014 Tenkara Summit recaps posted in the few weeks that have elapsed since the event.  Two excellent ones can be found HERE & HERE.  I had fully intended on jotting down my notes at least a week ago, but some business travel sort of got in the way, so I'm going to catch up now...

The Summit started a little after 9:00 AM, with some opening remarks by Daniel Galhardo.  He spoke a bit about the acceptance and growth of tenkara in the U.S. over the past few years, noting some of the highlights and milestones that took place along the way.  A segment from a Japanese TV program on tenkara, featuring Daniel & Dr. Ishigaki also was shown.  The same segment is available online (& below).

Dr. Ishigaki then took to the podium for his tenkara presentation, a bit about his background, the history of tenkara in Japan, an overview of the tackle & techniques, wrapped up by a Q&A session from the crowd.  Personally, it's always interesting to see Dr. Ishigaki speak.  While his presentation was very similar to the one in Salt Lake 2 years ago, his passion for promoting tenkara comes through in full despite a language barrier (an interpreter was used).  The Q&A session was surprisingly long, but full of interesting asks, both basic & advanced.

After that, it was time to break out to the product vendors, fly tying demos, and rigging/casting demos.  A hall of product vendors featured quite a variety of suppliers...including Tenkara USARocky Mountain Anglers, both Zimmerbuilt & Vedavoo, Fly Fishing Artwork rod cases, Native Eyewear, and artwork by Jeremy Shellhorn just to name a few.

Over in the fly tying area, tyers woud rotate among the tables.  Three I watched tie were Dr. Ishigaki, Graham Moran, & Joe Egry.  Jason Klass also tied a bit, as well as gentleman later in the session who's name escapes me.

Joe at the vise

Graham tying one of his fish catching kebari

Dr. Ishigaki always draws a crowd

Inside Ishigaki's fly box

A kebari shadowbox on display.
Assembled by Adam Trahan, each square shows a photo of a
tenkara angler as well as at least one sample of their hand-tied flies.

Out on the lawn were the rigging and casting demos.  A canopy was set up to show the various knots and whatnot required to attach tenkara lines to rods, tippet to lines, etc, etc...  Daniel also showed some basic casting to an eager crowd.  He even had Misako Ishimura stand in for a trout to show how to hand line in a fighting fish.  It was pretty funny, wish I took video.


Dr, Ishigaki took to Boulder Creek (which was literally a minute's walk behind the hotel) and also showed off some casting & fly manipulation techniques.  He even caught a fish with like 80 or so people watching.  Crazy.

The afternoon closed out with a very entertaining "tenkara magic" show by Dennis Vander Howen, a presentation on the impact on last year's Colorado floodings by Trout Unlimited (which was probably 15-20 minutes too long, my only complaint), and then some local fishing suggestions for the rest of the weekend, first by the folks from Rocky Mountain Anglers, then by Steve Schweitzer, specifically speaking to fishing Rocky Mountain National Park.

After some closing remarks from Daniel, the event wrapped up around 4:30PM, which left some time to go fishing...

There was a smaller nightcap back a the hotel bar for folks that wanted to stick around, including live music and some more up close magic from Dennis.  It was pretty I'm never one to say no to beer.

The Afterparty...  I'm on the right, chatting up Scott Hunter from Vedavoo.
Graham Moran is in the back holding the tenkara rod and saying something I'm certain was very "deep" to Karel Lansky.  Dennis Vander Howen is in the foreground...disappearing?
(Image Courtesy of TJ Ferreira)

All in all, it seemed like a very successful and well run event.  If it wasn't, the crew working it on the Tenkara USA side sure fooled me.  I had a great time and met some great people.

Looking back, my favorite parts of the Summit event itself was actually the down time in-between sessions and during lunch.  The time spent sort of milling about, bumping into folks you knew, if only by name, and saying hello.  

I met quite a few people for the first time that I had either been friendly with or was familiar with from similar online circles.  Folks like Chris Kline, Graham Moran, & Adam Hanna just to name a few...  Chris was even so kind to drop off some care packages to several anglers there, myself included.  I'd guess the gurglers were probably unique to my Altoids tin though...thanks Chris!