October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Short and sweet today.  I hope everybody has a Happy Halloween.

Whether or not you have kids or will be out trick or treating, Halloween is pretty awesome because it is one of those nonsensical holidays (like St. Binge Drinking's Patrick's Day) that we as a culture celebrate as an excuse to be naughty, and one sex does not-so-secretly loathe, (like Valentine's Day...)

As such, I also know a lot of my readers are outdoorsy folks.  Especially all you Colorado hippies.  So please, consider this your warning.  Do us all a favor and don't try to be "crunchy" or "earthy" or "healthy" with your Halloween treats.  No granola bars, no Clif bars, no raisins, and heaven forbid no toothbrushes!  If you must, I suppose a Slim Jim might be acceptable, only because it is dried-out and heavily salted dead animal "meat."

So...Please heed this warning and do not mess around with the treats.  The Three Musketeers did not lend their name to a candy bar for it to be wasted.

Because if you do...this little bastard's coming after you....

(anonymous reader-supplied art)

Yeah, it was sent in by the same guy who took the baby picture.
Weirdos are among us outdoor bloggers.  They are among us.


October 29, 2011

Gear Review - Eddie Bauer Sling Pack

A few weeks ago, when I went fishing for runaway stockies, I noticed my friend Swattie wearing a small sling pack to hold his gear.  It clearly wasn't a fishing specific sling pack, so I asked him what it was and if he liked it.  Answering in the affirmative, he explained it was a sling from Eddie Bauer.

Note sling pack on back

Anyone who follows along here knows I currently use one of two packs when I go fishing; either a William Joseph Amp chest pack, or my Eddie Bauer Travel Bag (aka "the manpurse").  I like both for different reasons, however each are a little on the small side.

Wanting to try something a little bigger, so I could carry a touch more gear, such as an extra fly box, or even a ham and cheese sandwich, I decided to give the Eddie Bauer sling a go. Figured at minimum it'd come in handy on my trip to New York. Here are my impressions in the form of pros and cons after a handful of trips on the water.

PRO:  Price. It only cost $20 (actually less right now at $15). In pricing fishing-specific slings, the price varied quite a bit, but most seemed to average between $60 and $80.  Not bank breaking like a $800 fly rod, but more than I really wanted to spend on a fishing bag.

Hero shot

CON:   It's not a "fishing" bag.  There's no built in fly patches, no special compartments, no gizmos or doo-dads hanging from it to accommodate tools and such.  It's merely a two compartment bag. It is also not waterproof.  It does have a mesh "sleeve" on the outside to hold a water bottle, but I haven't used it for that yet.

Pretty no-frills

PRO:  Those compartments hold a lot of stuff!  The bag doesn't look that big, but it tossed everything I used to put in my other bags in there, and it maybe filled it a third of the way.  Just note, this isn't a full sized backpack, so if you plan on multi-tasking this thing, school textbooks and whatnot aren't gonna fit.  A small paperback however...

CON:  Stuff is free to move around.  There's little segmentation in the bag. A small elastic-topped pocket within the main compartment will hold something like a camera in place, but that's about it.

Big compartment
Little compartment

The smaller front compartment does have some fabric dividers - organized to hold pens or and a small note pad or cell phone.  (I use it to hold my stream thermometer and extra leaders.  That noted, neither compartment is padded, so odds are something fragile would get tossed around and could break.  Leave the fine China intended for streamside picnics at home.

PRO:  It's lightweight and comfortable.  I'm no a textile guru, but what I believe is a nylon shell is not bulky at all, and the padded shoulder strap (which is adjustable for length and left or right side carry) is a nice width.  Wearing the pack, you almost forget it's on.  The bit of ventilated padding that rests along your back is good and gives the bag some structure.  Best part, when you need get to your gear on the inside, a quick swing to the front and everything is laid out for easy access.

Padding

CON:  I think I'm out of them at this point, but for those that this may be important to, it is not made in the USA.  Try China on for size instead.

PRO: Zips, pulls, and buckles are all above average.  The bag is inexpensive, but the zippers aren't cheap, which is usually my main pet peeve when it come to any type of bag.  Don't misunderstand me, they're not bulletproof or anything, but I have little concern of them binding or breaking.

Buckle & slide
Zip and pull

So to conclude...would I recommend this bag?  Yes.  It's roomy and and quite comfortable (which I realize sounds like a commercial for a mini-van), making it a great option when a chest pack is a bit too small for a day of fishing.  Toss in a few fly boxes, your lunch, or even an extra T! shirt and you'll be good to go.

I actually think it would really excel for someone out wading for bass that typically carries larger gear...like clear plastic tackle boxes (like THIS).  Just remember, as mentioned before, it is not waterproof, so don't wade too deep!


DISCLAIMER:
The Eddie Bauer sling pack tested in this product review was bought by me at full $20 in-store retail (I evidently need to go back and get a $5 price adjustment); I currently hold no association with Eddie Bauer whatsoever, however I do spend a ridiculous amount in their retail stores. As with all independent gear reviews at Troutrageous!, I try my best to keep my reviews honest and unbiased. If something is good, it deserves applause; if it sucks, I'll let you know that too. It ain't in my interest to steer you wrong, so why waste the time in doing so?

October 28, 2011

Check Out Fly Fishilicious

First it was Eat More Brook Trout...today it is Fly Fishilicious...


Go check out Jen's site for your daily Troutrageous! fix.
Many thanks to her for offering the opportunity to besmirch the good name of her rapidly growing blog.

October 25, 2011

Tenkara Tuesday - Superman To The Rescue

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday.

For today's installment, I'm honored to present a guest post by Josh Mann, a fellow blogger known primarily for his fishing website which speaks to saltwater pursuits, but at the same time is evidently not allergic to telescopic fly rods.  Becoming quick friends online via each others blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, I relish opinions like his because they come from the "outside"...no real agenda, just a simple hands-on evaluation of the method.

In this installment of Tenkara Tuesday, JM not only touches on some of his personal experiences with tenkara, but perhaps even crosses the line and tiptoes around a much larger subject - barriers to entry.  Either way I like it...and hope you do too.  Please Enjoy!

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So here I am , guest posting on someone else's blog for the second time in a little over two weeks while my own blog suffers from a serious lack of original content. No big deal. I've been short on inspiration lately. The boss man here at T! had a short run of guest posts for his "Tenkara Tuesdays" series, then ran out and started crying mentioned that he could use a few more. That's where I come in wearing a cape with a guest post to help out my trouty friend.

First , a little bit about the fishing I do. I am not a fly fisherman. Not to say that I've never fly fished, but it's just a style of fishing that never really appealed to me. I do all sorts of other types of fishing. Everything from throwing 8-n-bait for big Reds at the beach to trolling for Striped Bass here on my home waters and jigging for the occasional trout or panfish with ultralight gear.

I'm an opportunistic fisherman, meaning that I fish for what's biting when I can rather than waste time trying to coax lethargic bass from the shallows or tease trout out of their deep, cold pools in the middle of Summer. I'm sure that sounds sacrilegious  to some of the die hard fly fishermen that frequent T!, but I fish to feel something thrashing on the end of my line and I don't care what I catch or how. I just like to catch fish.

5% of my "Regular" gear

Enter tenkara. I first ran across this "style" of fishing sometime last year here on T!  Having been thoroughly skunked on a stream by a fly fisherman the previous week, I was a little more than intrigued. Suddenly there was a way for me to fish with tiny flies, without having to master the double barrel roll overhanded backcast or any of the million other fly fishing intricacies known only to the secret brotherhood of the fly.

I was able to get into tenkara fishing for a little over 60 bucks. I bought a Fountainhead rod , a spool of line and a few flies. My tenkara setup has opened up a new way for me to catch fish and I have to say I like it, even though I've only used it a few times.

95% of my fly fishing gear

Will I join in on the debate between tenkara and western fly fishermen about which is better?  Definitely not, but I will say that it is a cool way for us non-fly guys to glimpse into a world that often seems elitist and where our bait tossing ways are frowned upon.  For me personally, it's been great to be able to try fly fishing without having to be a fully outfitted western fly fisherman.  In my opinion, tenkara has made fly fishing immensely more accessible to the average weekend angler that has little to no experience.  Perhaps that's why the debate rages on?

Thanks for the invitation to guest post here at Troutrageous!

Tight lines,
JM , from Something's Fishy

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About the Author: 

Josh Mann is a devoted husband and father of two who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He has fished the waters of the Mid-Atlantic states for almost 30 years, targeting both fresh and saltwater species that he writes about on his blog, Something's Fishy.

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Are you a Western tenkara angler? Do you have a story, pictures, video, fly recipe, or simply a fishing report from one of your recent tenkara adventures? If so, Troutrageous! wants to hear from you for a future Tenkara Tuesday post! Feel free to send an email HERE, or check out this previous post for more information.

October 24, 2011

The Latest Valley Creek Fishing Report

Before I went to bed two nights ago I had the great idea that I'd charge the batteries on my point-and-shoot camera as well as my hand-held video camera.

When I left to go fishing yesterday morning, I had the equally great idea to bring said point-and-shoot camera and hand-held video camera with me.

However while doing both, the morning of I had the bad idea to leave the freshly charged batteries at home.

Oh well...

At least I didn't have an EPIC day of fishing, one that should have been documented for the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame (there's one of those, right?)  That said, I caught more than my share, but nothing to brag about. Luckily, I had my smartphone, so I snapped a few pics with it.


Small streamers (thanks @fieldcaster) in deeper pools and drifting Copper Johns through the shallows were the preferred flies of the day.

Also tried out my new wading pants and boots. As a former hip wader, I've become a quick fan of these Redington Sonic Pro wading pants so far. A little less bulky than full waders, would have been a steal even if I didn't get them for crazy price from The Clymb.  (Yes, that's a referral link, but the deal was really that good - fo' sho').

Redington Sonic Pro Wading Pants L.L. Bean Gray Ghost Wading Boots
Junk's eye view?

The L.L. Bean Gray Ghost boots seem solid too, nice and lightweight, but I didn't do too rigorous of wading so not sure how "sticky" the rubber soles really are.  Only time will tell on both, but good first impressions.

Anyway, not a magical day on the water, but a productive stress reliever nonetheless.  Sometimes the non-eventful days are just as meaningful as the memorable ones.

October 23, 2011

Maximizing Blog Post Keywords to Increase Traffic

I don't take much stock in the stats service provided in the Blogger dashboard.  I tend to prefer Google Analytics (& even StatCounter) a bit more when it comes to analyzing the "behind the scenes" that go on here in an attempt to make Troutrageous! a better place for you, the reader.

However...I did click on that "Stats" button today just to see what was new...and I saw this little chart regarding keywords:


So, going with that data set, it's clear to me that you all want to see something.
Thus, I present the following:

brooklyn decker beautiful native american woman trout rigs tenkara baseball hall of fame awesome troutrageous

In the legendary words of Bryan Adams...Everything I do, I do it for you.


October 21, 2011

A Random Act of Kindness

On the way home from my business trip yesterday, I called home from the airport to catch up with K.C. & Lilly.  Lilly was a little more excited than usual to talk to me.  She told me she made me a card in kindergarten and couldn't wait to give it to me.

Upon arriving home she rushed to her school bag and pulled out a small envelope.  This is what was inside.


Best.  Kid.  Ever.

October 19, 2011

By the Bay...

The plane went up and down.  Man it's freakin' windy here.

Mobile Blogging...Maybe

Work is sending me to Tampa, FL for the next two days.
I may blog, I may not, but if I do it will be done remarkably poorly via phone.

Just because...

Oh, and Happy Birthday OBN.

I'm not telling you this to get extra votes in your giveaways...shoot, I don't think I've entered any yet.
You've done a heck of a lot in the last 12 months for us outdoor bloggers, especially opening doors that were previously closed, and I'm certain the years to come will be only grow bigger and better.

Let's smash a piñata to celebrate the next time we're together.

October 18, 2011

Tenkara Tuesday - The Elephant In The Room

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday.

For today's installment, I'm honored to present a guest post by Anthony Naples, an angler, poetfly tier, artist, and fly fishing literature aficionado.  In addition to this menagerie of diverse talents, Anthony has quickly become one of the most vocal advocates for the previously suppressed Japanese fishing robot movement.  Most importantly, he's a fellow Pennsylvanian, and we, the residents of the Keystone State need to stick together.

Tenkara Tuesdays were developed in an attempt to define the identity of the American tenkara angler.  Anthony takes this subject by the tail (and also trunk), using a thought provoking metaphor to get his point across.  Please Enjoy!

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Tenkara in America – it is the elephant in the fly fishing room. I mean this in two ways. Firstly, tenkara is a big new thing, but it is being politely ignored by many in the fly fishing world (others are openly hostile for some reason). Meanwhile, tenkara is sitting there in the corner quietly growing from tiny elephant to medium sized elephant. Some in the fly fishing media, and many fly fishing retailers have ignored tenkara as best they can. That's okay. Tenkara doesn't need them – it is growing anyway. And I think it will continue to do so. Last year when I fished Rocky Mountain National Park, not a single person knew what the heck a tenkara rod was. This year, three people stopped me because they recognized the tenkara rod and were interested in learning more. That may not seem like much – but I think it shows that the word has gotten out.

Secondly and perhaps more interestingly, tenkara – especially tenkara in America – is like the elephant in the parable of the blind men and the elephant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

Believed to have originated in India, the story shows up in various traditions including Jain, Sufi, Buddhist and Hindu. Though differing slightly in the telling, the story is essentially this: A group of blind men are led to an elephant and after touching it are asked to describe it. Because each man encountered a different part of the elephant they all perceive it differently, and so their accounts of the elephant disagree significantly. In the Buddhist version the blind men describe the elephant as follows; like a pot (the blind man who felt the elephants' head), a winnowing basket (ear), a plowshare (tusk), a plow (trunk), a granary (body), a pillar (foot), a mortar (back), a pestle (tail) or a brush (tip of the tail).

Not being aware of the whole elephant the men describe only what they know. Given their limited perception they all experience the same thing very differently. Are they all wrong? Or all they all right? That depends on your point of view. In the Jain tradition, each of the blind men is correct. The Jain moral is one of harmony and tolerance. It illustrates the idea that one should be accepting of other viewpoints and belief systems. The moral to the Buddhist version of the story is more of an admonition to preachers and scholars (the experts). It warns that the so called wise men are like the blind leading the blind, and so all the men are wrong and none have the right of it.

American Tenkara is the elephant and we American practitioners are the blind men. We each see a part of the elephant, but none of us can see the whole beast. Some may see more of it than others but I think it is too early to pretend we know what the whole thing looks like. As time goes by the veil will be lifted from our eyes though. It is exciting to be here in the dark ages of American Tenkara. Hopefully we can be like the men in the Jain version of the story and realize that there are many versions of the truth. Rather than a bunch of bickering “experts” as in the Buddhist version.

I make no claims at being an expert at anything (except maybe procrastination). I always try to be careful when giving advice and couch it as something that has worked for me rather than the “correct” or “best” way. I've seen posts on blogs and forums that differ so greatly from my personal experience that I find myself saying, to paraphrase Bob Dylan ,“Is it me or them that's really insane?” But I will offer this advice – if you think you're interested at all then go get yourself a tenkara rod and join the party. Walk into the darkened room and encounter the elephant. You may be surprised at what you find. Well, if you've made it this far, thank you for holding on and putting up with my ramblings. I promise, if I'm allowed back to Tenkara Tuesdays I'll bring something for substantive and technical next time.

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About the Author:

The many interests of Anthony Naples can be found regularly cataloged (typically with a wry sense of humor) on his blog, CastingAround.  While Anthony may claim to live in the "dark ages" of American tenkara, his relative experience and extensive writings on the subject do more than their fair share to provide "enlightenment" for his regular readers.  Active in social media, Anthony and CastingAround can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Zazzle, while his tenkara flies are available for sale in the TenkaraBum online store.

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Are you a Western tenkara angler? Do you have a story, pictures, video, fly recipe, or simply a fishing report from one of your recent tenkara adventures? If so, Troutrageous! wants to hear from you for a future Tenkara Tuesday post! Feel free to send an email HERE, or check out this previous post for more information.

October 17, 2011

A Treasure Trove...of Thread

To say my wife sews is an understatement.

About the time I started this blog, my wife started her own business called The Diaper Bag Wrangler.  Over the years she's created a lot of different handmade items, and has grown her business pretty nicely considering it's pretty much a one person show run from our basement.  

I pretend like I'm the "eCommerce Manager" and help her out with website & blog stuff from time to time, but honestly, she does it all.  Not to mention she kept the whole thing running while she was going through chemo for breast cancer.  Amazing is the only way I can describe that woman.

Anyway...the other day she brought a milk crate full of thread into the house.  160+ spools.  It was gifted to her from a friend that had a family member that was no longer going to use it.  It was quite the score for her, and while I was impressed by the sheer volume, I really didn't think twice about it at the time...


This weekend, I was in the basement...excuse me, I mean her studio...and was admiring all the thread she had since stored in some shelving on the wall.  Walking toward it, and upon closer inspection, I noticed this:


Yes that Gudebrod.  You know the fly tying and rod building thread that was synonymous with quality for the better part of the last century...all 160+ spools!

Gudebrod also happened to be a local company, operating out of Pottstown & Philadelphia since the late 1800s.  Unfortunately, (as noted here), time and failed diversification was not kind and Gudebrod had to shutter its doors permanently a little over a year ago.

Now while most of this thread really isn't for fishing use (these mongo sized spools aren't fitting on my bobbin), it's pretty cool to take a look at these as they clearly come from several different periods in the company's history.  Some of the spools are even wooden, although I don't know if that implies age, function, or anything like that...


Just a little something for the fly tying folks out there, you  know, since I haven't shared anything from the vise in a while...

October 16, 2011

Escape To Central New York - The Conclusion

Did I do a good enough tease at the end of the first post to make you want to come back for more?  No?  Well what are you doing here then?

So picking up where I left off, I had just finished fishing and was going to make another fishing-related stop.

Back in the car, I headed over to the Cortland Line Factory Outlet Store.  Let me tell you something, if you're ever in Cortland, NY, this is a must stop.  It's basically your normal fly shop, except all the products come from one manufacturer...and I do regret not taking any pictures inside the place...for no other reason than to observe the wall of fly line.  It's like walking into Foot Locker and looking at sneakers...but they are all different flavors of fly line.

Pic lifted from their Facebook page

They had all the premium lines, and then had a whole rack of what I believe were factory seconds starting at $15.  In addition, they had a ton of leaders, tippet, rods (including Diamondback Glass), reels, flies from Turral and Riverborn, all that good stuff.  The only thing I didn't see were hats.  I would have bought a hat...especially if it said Climax (their leader brand) on it...because...well...that would have been too good to pass up.  I did buy some flies...just because.

The guys inside were pretty friendly too...I chatted them up for a little bit to find out what I should be tossing the next time I come up.  One thing I need to make note of; bring the 6-weight for the West Branch of the Tioughnioga.  While the fish on the 3-weight that I really brought to fish Factory Brook was fun...they grow 'em up to 30+ inches in the WBT.  When I told one of the guys I was fishing the river with a 3-weight, his immediate response was, "does that rod have a warranty?"  HA!

The rest of the trip really didn't have much of a fishing theme to it.  After I headed back to the hotel to meet up with K.C. & Lilly, we all got cleaned up (them de-chlorinated, me de-stinkafied) and headed out for an afternoon of exploring.

First we drove about 45 minutes to a vineyard/winery.  They were having a tasting event and K.C. loves her some wine.  They also had live music, BBQ, and ice cream to keep Lilly & I busy while Mom got her drank on.


After that, we headed toward Ithaca.  We really didn't know anything about it other than it was at the bottom of Cayuga Lake (one of the Finger Lakes) and is where Cornell University is located.

Passing through we were stopped dead in our tracks at Ithaca Falls.  Hopping out of the car we went streamside to get a closer look (and of course skip some stones).  Could these falls be any more beautiful?

Lilly none too impressed

There was also a gentleman fly fishing at the foot of the falls.  He was dead drifting something and did catch a fish in the 10 or so minutes I was jealously watching from the shoreline.  I'd have asked him what he was tossing, but the falls were so loud, he'd have never heard me.  I want to will go back and fish those falls.


After the falls and a quick cruise through downtown Ithaca, it was getting a bit late, so we headed back toward Cortland for a quick round of...


Random, I know...


Saving the best for last was dinner.  We were totally winging it, but as we drove through Cortland we saw a lot of people lined up outside a place called the Hollywood Restaurant.  Figured if there was a bunch of folks congregating outside, it couldn't be bad, right?

That hunch was spot on.  The restaurant was themed old Hollywood, with lots of movie posters and memorabilia on the walls.  The menu was largely Italian, but there was a little bit of something for everyone.  They had me when they didn't bring out just a basket of rolls with dinner, but a whole freakin' loaf of bread.  My last name starts and ends in a vowel, me and my people are fond of bread.

Note large Marilyn Monroe statue in center of restaurant.  So cool.

After that, honestly we were all wiped.  We headed back to the hotel, K.C. & I had a few drinks on our patio, then we all called it a night.  


We'd drive home after checking out the following morning, knowing we'd be back to the area again in the future.  After all, my new NY State fishing license has a whole year's worth of fishing still needing to be used.  Wonder if that was intentional...



October 15, 2011

My Version of the Recycled Fish Post

One with an eye for detail (& blogrolls) may have noticed more than a handful of blogs writing about Recycled Fish recently.  Acutally, not just Recycled Fish, but their new online fly shop where 30% of the proceeds get put back into the cause.  Hold on...let that sink in for a minute.........................

Yep, I said 30%!!!

Look at all the goodies....

What exactly is Recycled Fish you might ask?  What is this cause?  Well I can work a mean copy & paste, so here's the deal, straight from the horse's fish's mouth:

Recycled Fish is the national non-profit organization of “anglers living a lifestyle of stewardship both on and off the water, because our lifestyle runs downstream.” The Recycled Fish “Sportsman’s Stewardship Pledge” invites anglers to embrace the Stewardship Ethic and join the organization, free of charge. The SAFE Angling Program — Sustaining Angling, Fish and Ecosystems — is a way to help anglers embrace a lifestyle of stewardship on the water. It involves catch and release fishing, including the use of single barbless hooks, biodegradable lures, and non-toxic lead-free weights. Recycled Fish also educates anglers about invasive species, habitat loss, waterway litter and pollution prevention, urban fisheries, and increase participation in recreational fishing for both adults and children. 
Kayak guy's in...are you?

Make a little more sense now?  If not, here's the basic equation...

If:          Recycled Fish = Good For Environment
And:     New Online Fly Shop = 30% of Proceeds to Recycled Fish
Then:    New Online Fly Shop = Good For Environment

See, we all win...plus I know you already buy a bunch of fishing stuff online anyway...

Go go visit Recycled Fish HERE and the new online fly shop HERE.
Probably two of the most worthwhile "clicks" you'll make today.


Disclaimer:
In writing this post, I am being entered into a contest to win some swag.  That noted, did the allure of fly fishing goodies influence the opinion voiced above?  No way man.  The facts are the facts Jack, and none of what was written is a lie.  Recycled Fish does some really good work promoting environmental awareness (I'm personally signed up), so any initiative that puts more money toward the cause is definitely worth supporting; swagadelic or not.