September 30, 2013

Breaking In the Tenkara Rod Co. Sawtooth Rod

Yesterday was a little bit of a fishing boondoggle.  It was raining in the early morning, so I shelved the idea of taking the kayak out...then around 10AM the sun came out, but it was ridiculously windy and the surf was rough...so rather than tossing flies in the salt, I opted to stay close to home and try out the new tenkara rod that showed up at the house last week, the Sawtooth from Tenkara Rod Co.  Not how I had planned to spend my Sunday morning, but whatever...I had a new rod screaming to be fished.


Just a quick overview of the rod (this isn't a product review, Tom Davis has that market cornered)...but here are some things of note.  First off, it's good looking.  They slapped a nice paint job on this rod and went with gold accents as opposed to silver.  Makes it look very different than what's out there in the marketplace.


I also noticed the lillian is attached with a swivel, if you're into that sort of thing.  Nice touch.  But points off for not having the little rubber padding inside the screw off butt cap that has become somewhat standard these days.

It was a little tough to cast, but I blame the wind...not the rod...it was pretty strong at times.  You'll see in the pic below it put some chop in what should be a perfectly still pond.  Fiddle with lines all you want, tenkara doesn't excel in the wind.


I'll also note that this rod is rated a 5:5, but I don't know...if I were to compare it to my Tenkara USA Ebisu (the only other 5:5 rod I own), I'd say it's got a bit of a stiffer feel.  Not bad, just different.

Anyway, paired with a furled line from Moonlit Fly Fishing and a self-tied kebari, I caught about a half dozen of these...so it definitely gets the job done.


Nice job on your entry into the fixed line fly fishing world Tenkara Rod Co.

September 29, 2013

Tying Crab Flies

You know, being from Philly, I almost titled this "Crab Fries"...but I was reluctant to because then I'd just start obsessing about Chickie's & Pete's.  Guess I'm obsessing anyway...


The real reason for this post was that now that I'm salty, or at least brackish, in my fly fishing pursuits, I figure I need to put some thought into tying saltwater flies.  My tying materials are definitely geared toward tiny little trout flies, so I'm kinda lost right now.  I can tie a Clouser minnow, but that's about it.

I was paging through the September/October issue of American Angler (you know, the same issue TFM's Cam Mortenson is in...), and I read a great article about Captain Gary Taylor, one of the world's top redfish fly fishing guides.  He suggests a couple of "go-to" flies in the article, and while I'm not going to give them all away here, one of them is a Merkin fly, or a crab imitation named after a pubic wig.  Not a new revelation, but always good for a 2nd grade giggle...as explained by Dr. Ed Southwick in the video below...


Here's a video on how to tie one that I found on YouTube.  The fly, not the wig, although I'm sure you could find one of those too...



So does anyone else out there tie crab flies?  What patterns do you like?  What materials should I stock up on?

What about eating crab fries?  Anybody else do that?  I could go for some right now...I miss those crinkle cut bastards.  Do you go with the white cheese sauce?  You kinda have to, right?

September 23, 2013

Exploring Florida - Bartram Canoe Trail on Durbin Creek

As noted in the previous post, I finally stopped procrastinating and went out and bought a kayak (Native Watercraft Slayer 12).  I ordered it online and it arrived last week, so I (with the assistance of my wife - she's much better at comprehending instructions) spent Saturday afternoon installing the roof rack and setting up the kayak to prepare it to go for a paddle.

Unfortunately, Sunday was calling for thunderstorms in the early afternoon, so I ditched my plans to take it out for an extended maiden voyage in the marshes north or south of town (I hadn't picked which one), rather opting for something much more convenient & closer to home.


A little bit down the road from where I live there are signs for the Bartram Canoe Trail.  Evidently back in the day (1770s) William Bartram, a naturalist and explorer from Philadelphia (ironic?) did a tour of the Southeast and pretty much discovered and documented many of the plants and animals of the area.  

William Bartram Sketch of Alligators on St. Johns River

There's a high school in Philly named after his father John Bartram, and funny enough the high school down the street from my house is named after William, (Bartram Trail).  William did a lot of his early work in the area I live around the St. John's River.  The water I paddled in today, Durbin Creek, is part of the waterway system he explored almost 250 years ago.

Right off the highway, there's a nice little "park" with enough room for a few cars and a canoe/kayak launch.


The water was pretty calm and it was an easy paddle.  It's a swamp after all, so I didn't have the concern of fast moving water, etc...  I largely took the opportunity to feel out and move around in the kayak...adjusting the seat...reaching for things...rocking back and forth...I even tried standing up from a seated position.  That's going to take some more practice.  The kayak handled it well, and I did get upright, I just don't have my sea legs yet.


I brought a fishing rod, and tried casting it for a little bit, just to get a feel since I've never really done that before.  I didn't catch anything, but honestly, I didn't know what I was fishing for in the first place.  Probably gators.  Didn't much matter, it's really beautiful back there and plenty to look at to keep one's interest.


It was a relatively quick little paddle...I went out about a mile and and a half before backtracking back to the park.  I really wanted to avoid the impending downpour, so I cut the trip short.  It was a good call because pretty much as soon as I got home, the skies opened up in true Florida fashion.

Footnote:  When I got back to my SUV there was a business card wedged in the window from the Durbin Creek Wilderness Society.  Evidently these are 3 "everyday Joes" that are the keepers of Durbin Creek and do a great job volunteering their time (& manpower) to keep the water clear of both natural and man-made maladies so folks can continue to enjoy the resource.  Hats off to them for doing a great job!  They have a blog at bartramcanoetrail.blogspot.com and a Facebook page HERE.  If you're interested in learning more, there's a ton of great pictures and information at each resource.


September 18, 2013

Anchors Aweigh?

It's here...


...now I just need a YETI to store the sweet tea on its maiden voyage.

September 10, 2013

Tenkara Tuesday - Sherpa Flies

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday.

Recently, I unintentionally stumbled upon an e-tailer called Sherpa Flies.  See, I got some random newsletter email from them entitled "Test," and like a sucker opened it up.  It was possibly unsolicited, but considering all the online contests I've entered and/or things I've signed up for, who knows.

Anyway upon opening, it was an email from Sherpa Flies advertising their fancy new website...which in addition to all kinds of "traditional" flies, I also noticed that they offered tenkara flies (kebari).  While I enjoy tying my own kebari, there was just something about the look of these flies that intrigued me...besides the insanely inexpensive price of $5.50/dozen.


Now their website is pretty nice to look at, but it was pretty unclear how much it would cost to ship these flies to me in Florida.  I mean the address in the "Contact Us" section is in Nepal.  Who wants to go through the process of placing an order to later find out that the shipping costs 3x the flies themselves?

So I emailed them to get the skinny.  They quickly responded and not only told me that they had some kebari on hand domestically in Massachusetts, but they gave me a full inventory list of what they had - a mixture of most of the flies posted on their site in varying sizes.

Figuring "what the heck" I ordered 3 dozen in size 12, basically to thank them for responding to my inquiry.  It cost me $19 via PayPal, including shipping and showed up at my door in about a week.  So that is something like $0.53 a fly.  I won't tell you how much it costs to buy kebari in other places, we'll just say "more."

Here's what they look like in real life, not in a retailer's re-touched glamour shot.
Note:  They actually look a bit better in person, my point & shoot doesn't do macro shots justice.

Black Death Kebari
Sherpa's Tenkara
Olive Tenkara
Here's one of my ties, simply for comparison's sake...which I'll happily sell to you for much more than $0.53/fly....

Now I haven't fished them yet, but here are some takeaways...

  • The flies are tied very clean, some minor stray threads, but no sickly looking hackle or excess cement 
  • The hook eyes are small.  Smaller than what I'm used to
  • The points are sharp, I unintentionally stabbed myself to prove it
  • The hook wire is on the thin side, not a bad thing, just an observation

Oh, and did I mention they came in this little plastic box too?  Gotta be some additional value there.


Am I recommending these?  Nope, not yet, as I mentioned before, I haven't fished them.  Just making you aware that a very low price option is out there if you're buying and not tying...oh, and probably more importantly, that Sherpa Flies actually will ship you, and at a reasonable price if you place that order, not just take your PayPal funds and run.

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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 and email HERE, or check out this previous post for more information.

September 3, 2013

Baptism

Remember that post I wrote yesterday about wanting to feel the cool again...wanting the water to interact while fishing?

The soaked aftermath

Mother nature provided both of it today, by the bucketful...and although it soaked me thoroughly from head to toe and may have zapped the camera on my cellphone...I can't complain one bit.

It was a brief fishing outing, a 20 minute bike ride, an extremely small fish right off the bat, and then five minutes later the skies opened up with torrential rain.


Florida is silly that way, weather 180s all the time, but the bike ride back home in the pouring rain felt amazingly refreshing.  It may sound odd, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.


September 2, 2013

A Coldwater Fly Fisherman's Labor Day Lament

This long Labor Day weekend's been tough.

I'll be blunt, I'm homesick.  I live in Florida now, but it's not my home.  I may be here in body, but I haven't arrived yet in soul.

I miss my friends.  As high school became college, college became work, and work became a life of toil, my inner circles may have changed over time, but there was always somebody close by.  Even more were probably (yet unfortunately) taken for granted.  My relatively recent passion for fishing created many additional opportunities to wet a line, share some laughs, and knock back some beers with other like-minded people;  it's a shame they were short lived from the standpoint of proximity.

Don't get me wrong.  I like my new house and we moved down here because it was what was best for the family.  What's not to like about 5 bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, and a 3 car garage?  Who can complain about a slightly larger salary with a significantly less cost of living.  Our community is quiet and we are within a 15 minute drive from pretty much anything you could want from a retail or recreational standpoint.  Boo hoo, I know.

While I'm getting used to the constant heat of Florida, where it's still in the mid-nineties now in September, I have to admit that I miss the concept of cool.  Not man-made, crank the knob to high cool, but natural, feel the crisp breeze on your cheeks cool.  I don't like to be the guy that complains.  That's not who I am.  I'll give anything an honest effort.  But shouldn't the leaves on the trees start changing colors soon?  Sigh.

The worst thing is that I've seemingly lost my day of weekend psychotherapy.  I'm not sure if I simply haven't unpacked that box yet in the post move clutter, but to be honest, the fishing has just been frustrating. Most likely, just like yours, my work can be stressful, mentally draining, and simply tiring, if not all three at once.  That's why a holiday like Labor Day can be so rewarding.  A morning alone, with rod and (sometimes) reel was all that was needed to release the pent up negative energy and cleansing myself for the week ahead.  Fish were never a given, nor always the purpose; the experience was one of realignment.  

I could probably make it easier on myself by just breaking down, grabbing the spinning rod and getting some bait.  That's what people do down here...seemingly off the side of every bridge, jetty, or muddy bank reachable by foot or boat.  They're everywhere.  But I'm stubborn.  I like my fly rods too much.  After a brief flirtation with some water within the boundaries of my neighborhood, I'm finding myself drawn to the ocean, not because I want to catch saltwater fish, but because fishing in still water just doesn't hold my attention.  No offense to any pond jockeys out there.

I like to connect with the body of water I'm fishing.  I like to try to learn and read the currents.  Find and probe that slack water.  Creep along stealthily while sighting the target.  Be on the move.  Feel the cool pass over my feet and through my legs.  I want the water to talk and play and fight back, to be an active participant.  Shit, I like to wear waders and a long sleeved shirt.  While the ocean and inshore marshes don't necessarily provide all of that, at least there's the chatter of the waves and the leisurely dance of the tides to keep my mind somewhat in motion.

Those damn ponds just lie there.  Sleepy.  Stagnant.  Disinterested.  You can say I'm doing it wrong, but I don't think there's much you can do to persuade me differently.

It's clear a change is needed.  I need a kick start that the move alone didn't provide.  Right now, I'm just not sure where it's going to come from.  I could easily (and probably will) either schedule a trip back to Pennsylvania or the Smoky Mountains some time in October to get a coldwater fishing fix.  Unfortunately, that won't mend my long term therapeutic needs.

So back in Florida, I'm going to try some saltwater fly fishing classes, perhaps hire a guide for an afternoon, maybe even join a club.  Nothing against my close social media-based friends, but sometimes you just need to be in the same room as the person you're talking to.  A firm handshake and eye contact may be a lost art, but they mean a tremendous amount.  We'll see how that goes.  Anything has got to be an improvement.