The Phenom

Taylor Fly Fishing Rod.

Words you’ve no doubt been waiting to hear for some time. After purchasing one of their reels afew years back, I’m definitely excited about this upcoming project. It’s difficult to really say how rods will perform without casting them, but I’m definitely going to keep my eyes peeled. I’m looking to cast one of these fellas at show, hopefully next spring. 

Check out the campaign here: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/403628861/taylor-fly-fishing-rod-phenom

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Some Thoughts – #600years

I stopped by my parents’ house the other day, and the latest copy of the ‘Feather-Craft’ catalog was waiting for my perusal. It’s rare that I order anything from these catalogs, but it is fun to take a look at the toys. Talking about art is like dancing about architecture, is like comparing fly rods in a catalog… and this poses an interesting challenge for marketers. Personally, I find it interesting that pictures aren’t featured more prominently. Instead, we find that statistics, specifications, and descriptions litter the pages.

We see this when discussing leader and tippet material more than anywhere else. They talk about diameters and test strength. We see various sizes of tippet material and extruded, tapered leaders in packs of two and three, from more brands than I could name. We see phrases like ‘ultra-stiff,’  ‘high-tech,’ ‘high-tenacity copolymer,’ ‘strength to diameter ratio,’ ‘abrasion resistance,’ and ‘invisibility.’

That being said, we never see phrases like sustainable. We’re not seeing descriptions of half-lives, environmental impact, and lifetimes, and this is a big deal. Both nylon and fluorocarbon monofilaments have incredibly long lifetimes. Nylon is estimated to last approximately 600 years, while fluorocarbon has shown no evidence of dregadation over time.


When I tie my flies, I often don’t bother with head cement. It doesn’t make sense. I recognize that, whether my casting sucks or not, I’m much more likely to lose flies before they fall victim to trout teeth. And when we, as anglers, lose files, it’s inevitable that we lose tippet along with it.  I’ve personally lost enough streamers that some of my favorite honey holes are now a carpet  of my woven monofilaments.

Apparently though, we used to have a choice outside of traditional monofilaments. Back around 2009, it seems that there was plenty of blog buzz about biodegradeable fishing lines and tippet material (see also Brad’s Blog,  the Lateral Line, and Recycled Fish).

This was around the time that Eagle Claw brought ‘Bioline’ to market. Apparently, Bioline could fully degrade within five years,  while significantly weakening after two (allowing wildlife to break free if entangled). Bioline was supposed to be comparable to other monofilaments in all traditional metrics such as visibility, stretch, abrasion resistance, and memory. Better yet, it only cost a few additional dollars per spool.

I could tell a story here about it’s remarkable development. How it was developed with technology from the medical field. How it utilizes the same technology seen in biodegradable stitches. But there’s an underlying question here.

Why isn’t this product still offered? If anglers cared enough about conservation, why wasn’t this line flying off the shelves?

I took this question to Eagle Claw, and received some insight from a very patient Eagle Claw spokeswoman:

Unfortunately [we] will not be going forward with the product. The initial feedback was great […] but sales started off slower than we would like. Added to that, stronger Federal and State regulations on anything biodegradable forced us to make the decision that it was not cost effective to continue with the line.

She continued:

At Eagle Claw we believe our commitment to the environment is an investment in our collective futures. Through the introduction of innovative products, we’re able to manufacture items that help us meet our present needs while preserving the planet for those who come after us. Our Goal: A brighter future for our customers, our employees, and our neighbors.

There are plenty of arguments that you could make here, but at the end of the day, the ball was in our court. We so often plead for companies to take risks on more sustainable product lines. We had an opportunity to speak with our wallets and we didn’t.

We screwed up… and we’ll be dealing with it for at least another #600years.

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A Weekend Tying

This weekend was a busy one. Although I was able to cast a line in our local sewer runoff, other obligations held me captive for most of the weekend. Work went overtime on Friday, I spent some time with the family on Saturday, and Sunday was mostly left for the gym, cooking, errands, and grocery shopping.

Luckily, I was able to spend some interrupted pockets of time tying up new flies, which was a good way to calm the nerves..I was able to tie up a few different patterns, including green weenies, caddis, parachutes, and zoo cougars. I didn’t have time to perfect every detail, but I doubt the fish will know, so I took a few pictures to post. Check them out below.

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Davie McPhail – BWO Emerger

Like most people I mainly use youtube as a tool to watch the previous night’s “Late Show,” cat videos, and autotuned versions of the local news

That being said, it’s also an excellent way to watch some renowned tiers tying their favorite flies, if you ‘subscribe’ to those channels. I love getting those notifications, especially from channels as entertaining as Davie McPhail’s.

This week he posted a video featuring his blue winged olive emerger which is easily worth a watch.

I don’t have any BWOs in my box currently so I’m extra excited to tie some up, especially considering only a few materials are required. I tried out a version with heavy substitution (shown above)… and I think I’m going to go ahead and follow the pattern next time.

Check out the video above, and check out his channel here.

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The Open Fly Podcast – A Eulogy

In the course of writing reviews for my favorite podcasts, I came across a blurb from Evan of “The Open Fly” podcast. It was titled, “Stick a Fork in Us, We’re Done.” Above the title stood a symbolic equation; the equation’s right hand showing a cartoonish fork driven into the ‘Open Fly’ logo.

The Open Fly (OFP) balked at pretense. ‘Instructional’ became an inside joke among the hosts. If listeners were looking for instructional content, they must be lost. Hosts Evan Burke, Derek Young, and Kirk Werner were correct… in tone. The OFP was a podcast to drive to, it was a podcast to tie to, and it was a podcast to drink to. The entirety of the podcast, as its name might suggest, was funny, entertaining, and irreverent. It worked because the banter, sarcasm, frustration, and emotions of the three were all easily accessible during their discussions, and it’s hard to imagine that it would have worked as well with different hosts.

That being said, Evan, Derek, and Kirk were also wrong. The OFP did instruct whether they meant to or not. In the midst of their ramblings, they covered their own regional conservation, and fisheries management issues. River closures, runoff issues, and hoot-owl restrictions are unheard of in Pittsburgh, and even tangential exposure opened new doors. Moreover, the OFP was a fly fishing interview show, with knowledgeable and diverse guests who managed to sneak enough instruction while the fellas were busy bullsh-ting.

During the podcast, the guys often addressed the logistical difficulties they were facing. Guiding schedules and long commutes  frustrated the hosts. As the space between each broadcast grew, one could feel strain. Somehow, I was still surprised to find that Evan, Derek, and Kirk had waved the white flag on their podcast. It’s strange to think back or listen to their frustrations, cavalierly discussed without knowing the same frustrations would eventually end the podcast.

Anyway, it sucks to know there won’t be any more episodes released. Their podcasts are (relatively) evergreen, so I highly recommend a listen here. It’s good for a binge-listen, if nothing else.

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Strip-Set – Some Thoughts

If people have been talking about a fly-fishing book recently, there’s about a 50/50 shot it was written by George Daniels.

Daniels has been a big name in the fly fishing world for some time, especially following his 2011 release of “Dynamic Nymphing.” Despite being his first book, it has been incredibly popular with anglers, and has garnered considerable press and solid reviews.

Daniels followed this success with a similar title, “Strip-Set,” which explores the ‘Techniques, Tactics, and Patterns’ of streamer fly fishing. I was lucky enough to snag a copy during a promotion at my local fly shop, and was excited to dive right in. Strip-Set was released in October of 2015, and was followed up with considerable buzz: having appeared on podcasts, at fly fishing shows, and fly shop events/book signings.

Although I don’t exactly understand how the book’s subtitle differentiates between ‘Techniques,’ and ‘Tactics…’ but Daniels absolutely covers it all. Each chapter, through a different lens, seems to approach the ultimate optimization problem: How can the fly fisherman balance current speed, fly weight, line tension, sink rates, fly action, angle of approach, stream-bed structure, etc. Essentially, Daniels analyzes just about every situation one might see streamside, and presents an optimal approach for each scenario.

As-if that wasn’t enough, Daniels definitely included bonuses with this one. There are detailed recipes and pictures for 75 different streamer patterns, including topwater patterns, weighted jigging patterns, or suspended streamers. Towards the end of the book, there’s also a full chapter on night-fishing, which covers logistical concerns, safety practices, and mousing techniques.

Bottom-Line: This book is fantastic from cover to cover. The content included is technical, weighty, but incredibly well written. It’s chock full of well-framed, beautiful photographs that make you want to get right back on the water. As a product, it’s incredibly well bound, and a great value, even with being priced around $45.

Pick up a copy.

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Gear Review – Simm’s G3 Guide Boot

About a year ago, I finally had an opportunity to upgrade my wading situation. I’d previously been working with a standard set of Pro-Line chest-high Neoprene waders with the built in boots… and after a few years of use, I was definitely ready for an upgrade. Realistically, they’re great for coldwater situations, like steelheading or tailwaters, but if I’m heading to some small streams, or going just about anywhere in July, I’m dehydrated by mid-morning.

Anyway, I stopped by my local shop, and the fellas over at “International Angler” didn’t disappoint. My plan was to buy some wading boots for summertime wet-wading, and I got set up with a pair of the Simm’s G3 Guide Boots.

(more…)

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The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast – Some Thoughts

So this is a thing. Companies often release podcasts. These podcasts generally serve to educate potential customers with product offerings. Although often entertaining, they can sometimes serve a devious purpose. Think ‘native advertising,’ or ‘product placement.’

But before you tune out, be assured that IS NOT the case with Orvis’s Fly Fishing Guide Podcast.

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Anchored with April Vokey – Some Thoughts

“Join well known angler, April Vokey, as she interviews some of the most influential people involved in the fishing world today. Learn more about their careers, opinions, history, relationships, and life both on and off the water.”

I think Vokey provides a spot-on description… and personally I can say that I’m a huge fan of this podcast. Here’s the premise:

  • April Vokey knows people in the fly fishing industry
  • April Vokey goes and bullspits with those people for a while
  • Eventually the recording equipment is turned on whilst chewing the fat
  • Listeners get to hear candid conversations, anecdotes, and opinions from the sources themselves

(Asking ‘What’s a podcast?’ Click here.)

It sounds straightforward, because that’s the point. The backbone of any great podcast is the story it tells, and April tells great stories by putting us in the living rooms of famous fly tyers, fly fishing guides, industry professionals, and conservation experts. There’s plenty of ‘back-and-forth’ during the interview, and this can lead to light-hearted moments, or challenging reconsiderations of stances taken. Either way, it’s good for your ears.

The strength of this podcast lies in it’s conversational tone, but there are drawbacks to this approach as well. If you’re looking for detailed discussions of nymphing techniques, you’re not going to find it here. Vokey takes a pretty strong stance that those things are better communicated by books and time-on-the-water anyhow, and I couldn’t agree more. Vokey tends not to shy away from the occassional strong stance, and if you don’t feel similarly, this could potentially turn some listeners off, but I think it’s a solid choice. After all, what’s conversation without conviction or substance?
(#2016election)
Jokes aside, it’s a fantastic podcast, and you should start listening… like… yesterday. Listen up here.
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Podcasts, and Why You Should Be Listening If You Aren’t Already…

At this point, if you’re not listening to podcasts, you’re officially not “with it” anymore, but that’s alright, we’ve got your back.

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but media illiteracy is a real struggle, so let’s start simple. Podcasts are essentially mini ‘radio shows’ that you can control. They were popularized during the advent of the iPod and other .mp3 players, and are ‘broadcast’ (or distributed) via the internet. (iPod + broadcast = podcast… get it?) Anyway, you can listen to them on your computer, smart phone, tablet, mp3 player, gaming systems, or just about any other ‘smart device,’ and you can do so whenever you want. Podcasts are downloaded to your device as an audible file that can be played whenever you have the availability.

If NPR had a punk-rock equivalent… it would be the podcast. Generally, creators are ultra-passionate, content is cheap to produce, there is minimal (if any) capital investment, the quality is occassionally less than admirable, consumption costs are low (or free), and reputation is strongly correlated to word of mouth publicity.

That being said, the decentralized distribution of content allows creators the freedom ‘to podcast’ about anything they like. A radio-station could never feasibly broadcast a show with esoteric subject matter, but podcast creators, facing low costs and throwing a ‘wide net,” can target any demo it wants.

Thusly, quality fly fishing podcasts are in ample supply, and if you’re not already listening, now is a great time.

I want to highlight a few of my favorites with my next few posts, but in the interim, check out the following review for Zach Matthews’ “Itinerant Angler Podcast.

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