Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Review - Part 1 of 3

Recently, I picked up 3 fly fishing or tying books. Two of the books are established titles and one is new. Generally, I enjoyed each book for different reasons. In each of this reviews I will provide a general description and pros/cons.  We will start will the titanic book called "Fly Patterns" by Randall and Mary Kaufman. The Kaufmans have been a name in the industry for as long as I can remember.  Although their shop is no longer, their name lives on in the pages of this text. 


There is no dancing around with this book - it is what it's title says it is. It's a massive book with page after page of flies and their recipes.  From page 29 to 435 are chapters of flies organized by dries, nymphs, emergers, streamers, steelhead, warmwater, and saltwater.  Each page contains 9 color photographs of flies with its recipe below each picture.  Note, this is not a resource for learning how to tie flies.  Although it does contain some helpful introductory descriptions of materials and hooks etcetera, this is just an encyclopedia of patterns.  If you want a source of inspiration or if you are looking for a recipe for a classic pattern, this is your book.  Now for pros/cons.


I'm pretty neurotic about flies and fly tying, so I'm comfortable saying that I'm familiar with most patterns out there. With the birth of blogs etcetera there has been an uptick in fly pattern design. Now, if you're all over the tying blogs and forums you will quickly notice that the newest patterns are not included in this book. While there are many modern patterns represented, this book clearly focuses on the mass produced patterns. Most of the patterns are ones I had seen before. To be sure, there were many I hadn't seen, but most were familiar. Did I know the recipes before this book, absolutely not, at least not until now.  So, if you're looking for the new hot pattern this is not for you. However, if you're looking for that "new pattern's" lineage this is the book. Most of the cool creative patterns out there now are merely adaptations of the styles found in these pages. Are you looking to start your own lineage or haves fishing situation that calls for a unique pattern but your are not sure where to look for design ideas - start here. Steal some of the parts of proven patterns that may have gone stale but have strength in design and innovate from there.


It's huge. It's expensive. It doesn't contain all the newest hot patterns (but see above).  It's saltwater section and warmwater section is a little weak (this is a trout pattern heavy book). It appears to be focused on patterns used west of the Rockies and there are some errors (not many however, especially in light of how many patterns).  None of those are particularly problematic. My primary criticisms are that it can get a little repetitive.  For instance, there seem to be 30 stimulators represented  (slight exaggeration). For patterns like that I would prefer to see a couple variations followed by and editorial note with tips on how to alter it with different materials.  Also, along a similar line, I'd like to see more notes following the patterns. I would like to see the recipe and then see a note saying "that's the template now try it this way..." The fun in fly tying is the creativity side to it. Sure, part of the fun is coming up with the alternative yourself. But I'd like to know what Randall or Mary Kaufman think might work.  I'm of the school of thought that believes creative ideas beget creative ideas and the Kaufman's have created some powerful patterns (Kaufman stone anyone).


Worth having in the library but I wouldn't call it a "must have" unless you are REALLY into flies. I will probably burn quite a bit of time staring at its pages but I'm weird about flies. If you enjoyed flipping through Kaufman's former catalog you will certainly enjoy this book.

Until next time,

Tight lines.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fishing Report

Swung flies on Sunday in southeast wisconsin. Flows were good, casting was adequate, but the fish were not cooperative. I did have a fish pluck all the way down a run but didn't grab. Switched color and went through again and nothing. Don't know what it was but it was acting like a steelhead. 

My neighbor and some buddies fished another section of the same river. Sounds like they used a variety of techniques and got into some fish including browns, cohos and some steel. 

So the report is fishing is ok. There are fish around but they are scattered. Fish seem to be still on the egg bite but streamers will start to become more attractive soon. 

Flows remain good though they will probably start dropping soon.  As long as the water doesn't drop too quickly winter runs will probably start/continue trickling in. With the cold snap approaching and dropping water temps look for fish in more traditional winter lies.

Got some time off before startin my new job. Looking forward to be getting in some more fishin.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Big rains in fall = good numbers of steel

 and browns as well. Although water levels are merely one factor amongst many, it is really the threshold issue when discussing whether steelhead will push in. There is no doubt that during periods of high water potadromous species, like Great Lakes steelhead and migratory browns, migrate. If you're lucky enough to catch a wave of fish migrating from the lake you may experience some of the best fishing and best fights of the season.
The mil is on the rise. It is particularly sensitive to rain fall because of its urban surroundings, so it blows out quickly. However, considering the time of year and the warmer water temps, an increase in water flow will certainly bring fish in. It will also flush out the old and dead kings (thereby bringing the numbers of ppl down a tad). Additionally, there tends to be a particularly hot bite right after the peak of a high water period before the fish settle into their usual pattern. Time to go get some but be aware of the conditions an be safe.

Tight lines.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gear envy

18,000 laying around and this dream beavertail micro plus motor could be a reality. Not to be I guess, but as always, it's fun to think about.  Happy Friday.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What is going on here?

So Dad got a nice new skeeter (game changer purchase) and takes it out fishing for snook and reds or whatever inshore gamefish are milling about. Apparently, he starts blind casting an EP pinfish and catches a ... MULLET! What!? I have heard of doing this with bread crum "flies" but a pinfish streamer, I don't know what to say. I guess he broke his rod in the process. Looking forward to this story!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Game Changer - Sculpin (Goby)

Excuse the messy bench and grainy picture, this is the game changer - sculpin edition. 
I saw the Flymen fish spine and, like most tyers out there, I was intrigued. In short order, images of creative fish-spine masterpieces were flying around the web and blogosphere.  
However,  although there were an array of patterns, very few were modeled after the sculpin or goby that is so common here in the Great Lakes region.
So, imaged is my initial stab at a game changer sculpin. I use body fur in typical game-changer fashion. I use a couple of marabou as pectoral fins. To bulk the head, I use several turns of .30 lead free wire. All secured to a Sz 2 B10s. 

It looks very fishy. After doing a couple of these I came across one key - brushing a lot before you trim. The more brushing the better. 

If you have any questions let me know.

Tight lines.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Day of Firsts on the Kankakee

Lets start with Seth - that fishy looking dude above. Seth came out of the gate swinging by catching his first smallie on the fly (above) on a crayfish pattern (below).  Oh, and that first fish was the biggest of the trip (Seth kicked my butt in the quality department!).
He followed up with a handful of others, all solid fish, in fact each one of his was noticeably larger than any of mine. Better yet, he ended the day with a nice fish on a popper - another first. 

From my perspective, it was the first time I saw Seth really cast with distance, control and accuracy. There were some growing pains for sure, but Seth was casting and even more importantly fishing with confidence at the end which was great to see. I could sense that he was starting to feel the cast as opposed to having to think about it which is really the first major hurdle in this sport. Proud of you Seth.

As for me, it was my first float of the Kankakee, first time fishing with Austin Adduci of Grab Your Fly Charters. Austin is a great guide, he knows the river is good with the sticks, and knows how to keep everyone engaged.  I would recommend the trip to anyone.  As for the Kankakee, I was impressed. It's a scenic river with plenty of eager smallmouth.  Although the smallmouth aren't huge on average they are aggressive, tough and take flies throughout the water column.

Great company, great times, great trip.

What's next? (I'm talking to you Seth)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fishing Update

The last four weeks have been a whirlwind of life experiences including weddings of others, wedding planning projects of our own, engagements with loved ones, and bachelor/bachelorette activities.  Thankfully, I was able to keep my fly rod near by through it all.  Here's a little taste of what we've been up to.  The video is of my buddy Kelley Deneen and I exploring northern California with GoPros (the first videos of many hopefully).


Tight lines.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Local Ponds on Sunday

Fished another local pond on Sunday. I had to take full advantage of the summer-like conditions. Kat was a trooper and tagged along to catch some rays.

This particular pond is no secret, I seemed to be the last to the party and the fishing reports weren't great. Nevertheless, I had done some scouting on the topo maps before hand and had some ideas on where to try - spots which could be easily overlooked. Sure enough, the areas were looking as good in person as they looked on the map and the bass were out in force.

A chartreuse and white murdich minnow twitched overtop the weeds was the ticket. Fished an hour or so and caught 6 bass and a crappie and missed/lost a few others. None of the bass were very large and a couple were quite small. That being said, they hit hard and fought a good fight. Most were stocky 12-14 inchers.

All in all it was a great way to spend the afternoon. The lesson to take away from this is that a little homework can go a long way even on small water.

Some pix to come.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

T n A Bunker

This is a version of Galloup's T n' A bunker. I used and Allen egg hook trailer hook size 4 and a 8089 size 6. Don't worry, the 8089 size 6 is a big hook.

My twist is to use laser dub for the head to add a little sparkle and some bulk. Note that I "made" the yellow laser dub by chopping up sections of sculpin wool and ice wing. Then I placed the sections on two dog brushes and rubbed them together until the wool and flash looked clean and fully blended. I can tell you my blend looks and acts just as the store bought stuff.

The original pattern has a much thinner head but I see nothing wrong with a fly that pushes some water.

If you have any questions let me know.

Oh and yellow and white is simply because I had it on the table. I've never used this combo before but I guess it could work.

One last note, since the tape started at 1 this is in fact a 4" not 5" fly.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Funday

Got some time to fish the local pond for an hour or so. Caught 3 scrappy bass and a black crappie (add another to the species list). Not bad for an hour and a half. Clouser was getting it done - when in doubt go with the clouser minnow.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


For those who care to know (I doubt that anyone actually does) but the Scott ST is the same fly rod as the STS. Scott added the second S kinda midstream, so the first rods produced were labeled ST and the later rods were labeled STS. Nevertheless, they are the exact same rod and may be the best tarpon rod out there.

Why all the commotion, well call off the search, we located an STS 9011/3 on eBay and executed. It is currently on the way. So the search for the old Scott ST is over.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Scott ST 11 wt

This is a message in a bottle so-to-speak, does anyone have or know someone who has a Scott ST 11 weight in good condition and is looking to sell it or would think about parting with it.  Its an old model.

Feel free to let me know.

Final Numbers

I went 3 for 5 and Dad went 1 for 5. Not bad on the fly rod and we blew a bunch of shots early. Unfortunately, no big ones but believe me when I tell you 60 pounds of tarpon is plenty of fish. The triple-digit fish will be on the docket next time.

Our last day ended with fewer shots than the first two days but we executed our casts and presentations and each brought one to the boat.

Dad got a "little" one that would go 30 pounds and because the battle was a little less chaotic I was able to get a video. Hopefully, I'll be able to load it soon. I only got a portion of the end of the battle but I still captured two cool jumps!


1. The backcountry tarpon game is all about accuracy and I intend to ramp up the practice before the next trip - a hula-hoop and red paper plate should do the trick. The game requires putting the fly in a hula-hoop at 40-50 feet more often than not. Although the backcountry scene doesn't require long casts, as with all saltwater fishing, the ability to load a rod is helpful.

2. Tarpon in the woods don't seem to differentiate between fly patterns. Although we did not experiment, I'd bet the old adage applies - dark water dark fly.

3. Modern "fast-action" fly rods may be good for casting in a yard but they're not good for fishing (did some side-by-sides). I'll post a good-old rant later about this one.

4. Don't worry as much about "strip-striking" as people say. It's more important with other fish. I am not saying don't strip-strike. What I'm saying is that, in this case, the strike is not some extra action. With these tarpon, and presumably others, you want to keep stripping with the rod tip low. When the line gets tight hold on and keep it tight until the fish forces the line out of your hand and I mean hold it until you physically cannot hold it any longer. When they eat they get mad - the hooking process doesn't take very long. This is hard to explain if you haven't experienced it, but essentially if you keep the line tight they will hook themselves. That technique, as opposed to a deliberate strip-strike, was more effective (although it beat the crap out of my hands - don't use shark skin without gloves!) Also, down playing the strip-strike helped avoid the dreaded trout set.

5. Strip slow.

6. The trout set guaranties failure.

7. Over the years I've noticed that freshwater fisherman tend to under estimate the strength of their leaders myself included. If you tie good knots, a clean piece of mono can do serious damage.

8. Tarpon are the greatest fish on the planet with no equal.

Also, we observed some regular snook activity in places where we hadn't seen them since the kill awhile back - a great sign for Dad this summer and a better sign for the future of the fishery.

Great trip with just enough memories to keep me going until next year.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Final Tarpon day of 2013

We got beat up on day two. Dad had five eats but couldn't get the hook pinned. Then, we let a few shots at some BIG poons get away from us. Seeing those big fish in shallow water give chase is truly amazing. There is no doubt tarpon are the best fly rod fish in the world. Big, fast, strong, happy to eat a fly. You can find them on the beaches, in the woods, laid up, rolling and gurgling . They are exceptional fly rod quarry. Day 3 of 3 is about to begin. I've got the bow. With my curse finally broken, my tarpon nuclear winter over, it's time to focus on some of the big girls. We've seen about a half dozen fish that would clear 150. They may be out of my league but I'd sure like to find out. I guess we shall see.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Caught First Tarpon on Fly

And one more. Two more days of fishing. Tarpon are insane. I may not come back. Pictures to come. Our first meeting - I waited 20 years to meet her.

Game Day

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Couple from our spring steelhead trip

Not sure what the current conditions are but with all the rain and cooler temps I'm thinking there will be a lot of fish in the rivers and they may be sticking around for a little while.

Although these fish were taken on the doorstep of our calendar spring we still faced winter-like conditions.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dear Winter

You're being very selfish. Spring has been patiently waiting for playtime and you keep hogging it. Old man winter, I beg of you, hang it up until next year my friend. There is lots of fishing to be done and we need every warm day we can get!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tell Reactor Watches to Stop Supporting PTTS

Saw this over at Moldy Chum. If you fish for Tarpon or would like to preserve your opportunity to fish for Tarpon in the future, then tell Reactor Watches to stop supporting PTTS. Watch the video to understand why. Follow this link to voice your opinion:

BOYCOTT REACTOR WATCHES from Save the Tarpon on Vimeo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

MI update

On Sunday Dad got a grab on the swing moments after I walked up to him to call it a morning and a minute after he said let me take a couple more casts (wedding planning trumped fishing this weekend).

Modified ESL got the bite. Unfortunately, shortly after the grab the fish started to buck at the surface and the hook pulled. Probably nothing he could have done. Looked like a healthy winter fish and was enough to rekindle the fire. Dad has been beating me up on the swing this winter. He has a good feel for the drift.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Checking out wedding venues in northern Michigan. Got to do some fishing this morning. Water was cold but fishy looking. Got two pulls which was promising. Spawn guy came in behind me and got one.

All in all promising. Maybe we can get some this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lone Wolf Weekend

My better half was out of town last weekend and here in the Midwest it was bitter cold. The local rivers were iced up and its tough to ice fish with a fly rod, so what is a lone wolf to do? Set up the kitchen table in front of the tv, grab a bunch of random fly tying materials and fly fishin' DVDs, a 12 pack, some bourbon and go to work. Having my neighbor and fellow fly fishing/fly tying enthusiast come over for a night to talk fishing and flies was an added bonus. A number of flies were churned out and the following was one I'm particularly excited to try.

Two 2461s sz 2 with beadalon 7 strand holding them together. Four hackles hanging off the back. Marabou palmered up both hooks. Ostrich lashed on the top of each hook for color contrast. 3D eyes up front add a nice baitfish touch. I think eyes can really enhance a streamers effectiveness.

It is basically a galloup T n' A with the ostrich topper and the eyes.

It's 4 inches + and between the the bou and ostrich it will have a bunch of shake and wiggle. I'm a little worried about durability with such soft materials but that is to be determined.

Bass, pike, salmon and trout are all on the list of targets and color options are pretty close to endless.

Tight lines!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This video just pisses me off...

You may fish to put fish on the table and that is fine as long as you do so responsibly. Like me, you may fish for the sport of it but the same rule applies, you must use precautions and take great care to revive the fish, if not for the environment or ecosystem but for your fellow angler. Sure, incidents happen where a fish unavoidably dies or is mortally wounded, but if you are conscious of it you can certainly reduce those situations. I feel that if you want to take part in this great sport you need to do so with an utmost respect for the fishery and even more so the fish. This tournament and improper tarpon fishing practice is crazy and must stop.