The Rats Nest

Monday, June 24, 2013

High Water Everywhere, A Streamer Fisherman's Dream Come True

I know the sight of higher water makes the typical "majority" fly angler cringe.  Limited or no wading opportunities, trout shuffled around from their normal lies, heavier water volume, degraded clarity conditions; variables that inevitably work against the dry fly oriented angler making it easier to say F it, stay home, pop a cold one and throw a couple slabs of meat on the grille.

If you're what I call the "minority" trout fisherman, a class that I think undoubtedly I fit into these days, there's another kind of meat that is associated with how we think and fish.  Big streamers equate to meat in our rather different vocabulary.  If there is anything "Manly" in the realm of fly fishing, chucking big flies on larger than standard rods for trout is right up there with slinging bugs the size of shoes for toothy critters.

You all know that I have a propensity to fish big stuff under just about any condition I am faced, but when the rivers swell and my Hyde can get in the river, there just isn't anything better in my book.  It would be great if time was something I had in abundance.  The cards I've been dealt lately have not been the greatest in regards to finding time to fish.  Looking for a royal straight flush has pretty much been trumped by a bunch of mixed up cards from the four major suits.

Although my time wasn't front and center, there has been some really cool stuff that filled the fishing void.  Last weekend (Father's Day) the family and I were visiting the family cottages and managed to spend some time together at the shores of the pond, swimming and dunking worms.  Oh, did I say that?  No way, Rich dunking worms you ask?  Well, my little girls like to fish too, and they are both closing in on the cusp of the right age to practice casting the fly rod.  So, chucking worms is a great start, besides, fishing is fishing regardless of what you use as long as it's done ethically in my book.

Nora Watching Her Big Sister Reel In The First Of The Day
Tessa is already a pro at reeling in fish, but Nora on the other hand hadn't had her chance.  Nora, like her sister picked up on it pretty quickly, and in no time was reeling in fish just like her big sister.  To say we had a blast is an understatement. 

Nora's First Fish
In between dips in the pond, chattering teeth (mostly Nora I might add), and building sand castles, the girls alternated reeling in perch and bass.

Tessa With A Bucket
Fast forward to this weekend.  Well, I had grandiose plans to float a certain river up in the Catskills, missing the window the prior few weeks, I kept my fingers crossed that the releases would sustain and I would get a shot with a couple of friends slinging meet or bugs topside in hopes of some quality fish.

Boat Box Filled With Meat Flies
As luck would have it, the spilling subsided and the flows were gradually cut back as time inched closer to my departure.  The day I was set to leave the river was pretty much back to the standard lower flow schedule, and although you could float it, it was not what I consider optimal. 

Streamer Sticks Set.
Bagging the plans, I still managed to head out and meet my good buddy Mike on Sunday, albeit later than intended as I was struck with some stomach issues after a rather suspect dinner the night prior.  Our now tailored plan was to wade another river, even though it was downright oppressive with the heat.

The waders stayed in the truck and we both opted to wet wade, and boy were we happy we did.  We managed to pick off a handful of sporadic risers in the afternoon heat, but the hatching activity was very much nil.   There was literally nothing working on the surface until that last 1/2 hour of daylight, and then it was nothing short of bug soup and rising fish everywhere.  
One Of Several Wild Browns Caught

Once it became dark, we were both pretty tired and downright starving so we bailed and hit the pizza shop in Mike's town, pretty much the only thing open at 11 PM on a Sunday night.  The bacon and chicken special was stellar, and was washed down with a cold beer.  Because Mike had some packing to do, and I wanted to be closer to home, I got up early this morning and drove east towards home.

I didn't go all the way home however, I managed to rip streamers early with some success on my home waters, before changing over to a nice beefy dry dropper set up of a Busted Stone and DDT nymph.  The combo worked out wonderfully and brought several fish of various sizes to hand today.  It was really nice to watch fish rising to a dry fly, something that I have done very little of this year.  Could I be changing gears again?  Wishful thinking, but probably not solely, you know how I roll, but it did get me thinking of some new pattern ideas, so maybe you will all see some smaller bug oriented freshness in the months to come.

Local Fare

The book is coming along slowly but steady, I am just about finished with my third chapter.  In all actuality, I am  having a lot of fun doing this project, and as long as I continue writing a few times a week I foresee this being completed about this time next year.  Hopefully I can maintain my focus, I have a few things to wrap up this week which should free up more time to both tinker at the vise and write more in the book.  In the meantime, enjoy your summer, and great success on the water.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Updated Shucked Up Emerger Video

Due to the TMC 108 spbl being discontinued, I had to find an alternative hook that would fill in the void for this emerger pattern.  Well the Partridge Klinkhammer X-treme has been the hook of choice, and for obvious reasons.  Here is the latest version of this really effective emerger pattern.  Click the picture to watch the tying sequence.
In a March Brown Color Combo

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Regal Revolution, A Year Later

I'm not one to write reviews, as I've said in the past, many gear reviews on the net are overly biased and often completed with very little time spent actually using the product.  For the consumer, this is a a great disservice as at some point, there will be something that goes wrong and unfortunately the consumer will be the one to figure this out.  There are a few shops and people out there who offer up some great reviews, George Anderson being the one that comes to mind immediately, but several just don't cut the mustard.  So with that being said, I'll try and give you my honest opinions and thoughts on the Regal Revolution vise after spending a lot of time tying on it for the last 13 months.

First and foremost, I will say this about vises, choose one that fits you, everyone has their personal preferences for a variety of reasons.  Try em all, pick one you like.  Once I find something that I either like or grow used to, I am more apt NOT to change.  I took a leap of faith when I decided to try the Regal, I think the biggest reason why I decided to give the vise a try was I had grown tired of wasting time switching jaws and tinkering with the head of the vise in between tying flies on varied hook sizes.  There is nothing worse than wasting time trying to get the hooks to hold securely in the jaws of a vise when you're tying in quantity.

When you tie in volume, time is a commodity; the more time you spend not tying and fiddling with equipment, your earning potential decreases drastically.  I found myself continually frustrated some days when I had mixed orders of flies with drastic changes in hook styles and sizes.  I would inevitably be wasting time trying to get the jaws just right when I would switch to a larger or smaller hook.  Levered jaws with adjustments  have limitations, and take time adjusting which often equates to wasted time.  Also, if you're not careful you can easily over crank the mechanism and warp or damage the jaws.  Once the jaws are warped, they are pretty much useless as they just will not hold hooks securely and you'll be shelling your hard earned dollars out once again to replace them.

Regal has probably the most fool proof and easiest mechanism for hook placement in the jaws.  Simply pull the lever towards you and the jaws open, put the hook in the jaws and gently release the lever.  No turning of an adjustment knob, cam lever or anything.  Pull, place, release.
Pull The Lever

Simple and easy with no fiddling required.  There just simply isn't a quicker vise out there for placing hooks in the jaws.  The only thing that takes a little getting used to is when you are using bigger hooks on the standard and magnum jaws, more on that a little later on.

Place The Hook

Close The Jaw And Your Ready To Tie
The holding power is second to none no matter which jaw you have in the vise.  Look at this 1/0 Gamakatsu B10s hook that I bent into a circle.   That should answer anybodies questions about the strength of the jaws.   Although I do not recommend doing this with your hooks, it should paint a pretty vivid picture. 

Changing of the jaws is just as simple, simply turn the jaw release knob found on the bottom of the head, remove the head, and replace it with your alternative jaw.  That simple, and everything is contained to the entire head.

No worries about losing cotter pins, screws or knobs, its all contained in one piece.  The post on the vise even has a flattened section so it makes it rather easy to figure out exactly how to reattach the head.  Simply line the jaw release knob up with the flat section and tighten. 

Tying in a wide variety of hook sizes and styles I have had to utilize different jaws.  I use the Mag Jaw the most as you all probably know, it accommodates the larger hooks quite well but did require a little bit of getting used to. The standard jaw will work for most as it also has a notch for larger hooks but the curvature will limit the tyer.  Essentially, if you are a person who ties on large irons often, then the Magnum Jaw will be your best bet.
Close Up Of The Mag Jaw

The jaw has two notches on the inside for holding different styles of hooks.  Figure out which notch fits the best with the type of hook your using and release.  I have found that the notch closest to the tip of the jaw handles most if not all of the hooks that I use, up to 3-4/0 without issue.

As you all know I tie in quantity, roughly 15,000 or more flies have gone through this vise in the past year, many of which are larger patterns that require wrapping materials across the shank of the hook.  Having a rotary vise was an absolute necessity, and I have really grown fond of how this particular vise can be switched from a fixed to full rotary vise.

My Thumb on the Release
As you can see the placement of the rotary knob is very beneficial to the fly tyer.   The knob that releases the vise from a fixed position is placed exactly where your non-tying hand's thumb would rest if you were holding the vise, essentially making it easy while production tying to simply turn the knob to loosen or tighten the head.  I have grown so accustomed to this feature that I can actually stop the vise mid turn with the touch of my thumb.

A nice accessory to consider especially if you tie a lot of trout sized flies is the pocket base.  The pocket base has five reservoirs that will allow the tyer to put hooks, beads, or any other small items close at hand and in a clean manner.  This I have found works great when your tying in mass as you can keep your materials and flies in order. 

For obvious reasons I have a couple vises ready to go at any time, the pocket base with a midge jaw attached to the vise stays on my material table, and the mag jaw is locked into my desk on a clamp as it never moves.  

At the end of the day, I am very comfortable and happy with how the Regal has treated me, and I can honestly say this was one of the best decisions that I have made and I'm not looking back.....

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