Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stroft Monofilament

The fishing market in Europe has been keeping a little fishing line secret from us regarding fishing line over the years. Waku, a lines manufacturer in Germany has created a woven nylon monofilament product called Stroft. Stroft, named from combining strong and soft has been proven to be 30% stronger then the fishing lines on the market today, while at the same time decreasing the diameter.

Apparently Stroft provides superior knot strength. Stroft GTM is produced using a multi-level tempering (heat-treatment) process to remove material stresses formed during extrusion, cooling, and drawing. Simultaneously, silicon and PTFE (a type of fluorocarbon) molecules are diffused into the surface to increase tensile strength and maintain suppleness.

The extensive development behind this process yielded a product declared the overall best fishing line by a German body similar to Underwriter's Laboratory in North America.

Stroft ABR, the company's latest product, has increased abrasion resistance while maintaining the high strength characteristics of GTM. This remarkable result is achieved by tempering the monofilament under a high pressure.

The pressure compresses the surface layer, producing a monofilament resistant to UV rays, scratches and coiling. Furthermore, the process improves wet tensile stress by reducing water adsorption and thus should decrease break offs when rubbing against rough surfaces like rocks.

Is this going to be better then good old Maxima Ultragreen? Well, we will see. Being that this line is supple, I think it may actually delay or stall fly turnover. However you can overcome this by stepping up in pound test. Also if you look at it from the standpoint that you will be able to use higher strength lines with more abrasion resistance then yes it should work better. I can also see in low water conditions, sight fishing and while skating flies how having a small diameter line (with higher tensile strength) will be helpful. Look at a quick comparison, 8 pound Maxima has a diameter of 0.010 inch while 14.1 pound Stroft has a diameter or 0.010. Will using a stronger line help me catch more fish? I think so!

This winter I have been fishing Stroft ABR. I have been using 38.5 pound (0.0018 diameter) for butt sections and 23.1 (0.014) pound for tippet. From what I have found is it does hold up to what is said about it regarding break strength. I have found this out not by loosing fish, but rather trying to pull flies off rocks. It is indeed harder to break when trying to free your line.

Last Fall I had two fish break me off on rocks in tailouts, one of which was on a dry fly. I have a feeling this line may help prevent some of this heartbreak in the future. It sure as hell can’t hurt anyway. Oh and Stroft has finally made its way to distribution here in the US. For those of you that may complain that it is not made in the US remember neither is Maxima.

One other neat thing to note is that Stroft has their stuff so dialed in that they are able to make tippet in added half strengths. Such as 4.5x tippet. Pretty cool from a nerdy gear aspect. Too bad I don't fish for trout.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Skate the Fly

Skate the Fly - Deschutes Steelhead from Dylan Rose on Vimeo.

Somehow I missed this, check out this video from Dylan Rose and while you are at it check out his work on his blog, Skate the Fly. Cool stuff!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Columbia River Nets are Still Out

With this years return and so called epic predictions of Spring Chinook to the Columbia River, Oregon and Washington biologists decided against a commercial fishery in the Columbia River on Tuesday for the time being. Out of their last test fishery, 58 spring chinook and 22 steelhead were netted. Yes, STEELHEAD! For years our late returning native steelhead have been slaughtered in gillnets and I am glad to see that the powers that be are making the right decision to hold back the nets for a while longer. If you ever wondered what happened to the large native steelhead that swam back to Southwest Washington, Willamette Valley and Sandy River, here is your answer. Most of that gene pool ended in gillnets. Thanks you for the right decision WDFW and ODFW. Read more from Oregon Live.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Airflo Speydicator

After a year in the making, it has arrived. Don’t let the name fool you; it’s more than a one trick pony. Think versatility. Swinging sink tips? Of course. Bobbers? Bring 'em on. Overhead? Launch away. Just one thing- make sure you have enough space on your reel to accommodate the line. 200yds of 20# micron should leave plenty of room on a standard 9/10 reel. And if thats pushing it, cut the last 20' of running line off and weld a new loop, there's plenty there. After all, its polyurethane. Pick up some shrink tubing at Fry's, a seam ripper at Joann Fabrics and buy your wife a new hair dryer.

So why the hell did it take so long to get the line finished? Well, it took three versions to finally get what we wanted, which means the advertised diagram AND grain weights in the 2010 Airflo catalog are incorrect. The differences? The rear taper and addition of the handling line. It’s never been a question of what was needed to turn over big shit. More mass than the earth. That didn’t take long, but how do you manage your junk after it hits the water? Its all about the mends! The problem with skagit and scandi heads is that they cannot be effectively mended to provide an extended dead drift once on the water. There needed to be a specific rear taper that could not only smooth out an overhead cast and provide a variable length of overhang for a spey cast, but one, when combined with the handling line, could stack mend to the head AND reposition it if needed.

Originally designed for switch rods, the line works equally well on spey rods. To keep things simple, if you have a 7wt switch or spey, go with a 7wt Speydicator. No need to overline. The lines come with a black sleeve that identifies the rear taper. For overhead casting, strip the sleeve into the guides before you cast. For spey casting, hang it right outside the tip. Make no mistake, this line is a workhorse.

For the line nerds out there, the entire line is broken down into the head, handling line, and running line. From the backing knot forward, there's 60' of 30# (.035'') ridge runner, followed by 25' of level handling line (.057''), followed by the head (43'). The percentage breakdown of the head only, includes a front taper (23%), belly (51%), and rear taper (26%). The black sleeve sits roughly half way up the rear taper. Line weights come in 6 through 9.

Brought to you by the folks at Airflo and those of us who lose sleep over line tapers and trophy fish, where creativity is the mother of progression.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Streamside Lunch

It is amazing how delicious and easy a streamside lunch can be when you take a few minutes out of your fishing time to make it. Especially when you have a March 2010 summer hatchery brat to put on the burner. Some butter, a few seasonings, some vegetables, a basic propane stove with a few tasty beverages can go a long way. You often hear about elaborate meals that guides sometimes make for their clients and I got to say its easy. It doesn't happen nearly enough on the river when I fish, but it should. Damn good way to add fuel to the fire!

Someone needs to work on their filleting skills.

Roughage for the colon and vitamins for the soul.


Stop Nestle Waters

Right now, it’s a site. But it’s destined to become a community.

It’s a gathering point for rural citizens fighting to preserve control of their water supplies and local economies from Nestle – the world’s largest food and beverage company.

It’s information. It’s conversation. And yes, it’s definitely grassroots.

Why are we targeting Nestle Waters?

* Because Nestle’s predatory tactics in rural communities divide small towns and pit residents against each other.
* Because Nestle reaps huge profits from the water they extract from rural communities – which are left to deal with the damage to watersheds, increases in pollution and the loss of their quiet rural lifestyle
* Because Nestle has a pattern of bludgeoning small communities and opponents with lawsuits and interfering in local elections to gain control of local water supplies.
* Because the environmental consequences of bottled water on our atmosphere, watersheds and landfills are simply too big to ignore.
* Because no international corporation should have the right to pilfer the public’s water for profit.

Nestle is once again trying to place another water plant on one of our freshwater strongholds, the Columbia River Gorge. Please read what Nestle has done in other communities such as in McCloud, California, Fryburn, Maine and Mecosta County Michigan. This is our chance to voice our opinions against Nestle before they get there foot in the door on our most important watershed here in the Pacific Northwest. I am all for progress, but not at the expense of out natural resources and the plastic bottles it is going to leave for thousands of years.

For those of you are are willing to stand against Nestle, please add your signature to the growing list here. Thank you for supporting or at least reading about what is being planned on the Columbia River.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Old Adage

This Sunrise Sickle MOAL took this bright buck with the sun on the water and three feet of visibility on the Washington Coast. (Photo: Mark Shamburg)

A fish’s eye is very similar to that of humans with a few exceptions. Both human and fish retinas have structures called rods and cones. Rods help to detect the presence of light while the cones help to identify different colors. Fish that live higher in the water column have more rods while bottom dwellers have fewer because of their lack of need to pick up color. These fish use other senses such as taste, lateral line and smell in their feeding practices. On the flipside, fish that live at higher depths have more rods that help them detect things in the water at low light phases and cones that allow them to see ultraviolet light. Thus fly color becomes important.

Light is filtered when it hits water and depending on the structure and color of the river bottom and water, light can be reflected back up. At these times neutral colors may fade into the background basically because of glare near the bottom of the water column but make objects near the surface stand out. At this time bright flashy colored flies would stand out more because neutral or dark colors will be washed out in background near the bottom. Thus your fly will be seen when it hits the upper water column during this phase of light.

You ever wonder what the Silhouette looks like in low light conditions? (Photo: Brian Chou)

During periods of low light, dark flies are useful because there is less light reflected off the bottom. At this time dark flies provide a silhouette that can be seen and contrasting colors or materials in flies become valuable so that fish can see them.

So during periods of a lot of light and especially with a lighter color river bottom I like to fish bright flashy flies. However when fishing on or near the surface I still have confidence fishing neutral or dark colors because the fly will provide a silhouette regardless of color. At these times and especially in colder water I like to use flies with a little more movement with different materials such as marabou or bunny fur to not only provide a visible silhouette, but also attract attention to it.

In time periods when ambient light or the light available is low such as dawn and dusk, remember the acronym Roy G. Biv. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. These colors are arranged in decreasing wavelengths of light. For instance red is the first color to disappear when ambient light fades. It is also the first color to disappear in the water column when fishing deep. However we do not have to worry about depth in the case of swinging flies because nobody in their right mind would be swinging fifteen feet deep. Do you ever wonder why purple flies are popular here in the Pacific Northwest? Dark dreary days, dark basalt river bottoms, and lots of shadows from overhanging trees or canyon walls lead to flies that can be seen.

Water clarity is also another thing to take into consideration in fly choice, however I stick by the old adage with once exception. I usually increase fly size. Fish will not only feel safer with the added color in the water, but also move closer to shore. Thus your presentations no not have to be as technical, but you need to make sure to cover the water closer to shore and especially the hangdown.

Every steelheader has their go-to flies or combinations that work for them. I personally like orange and chartreuse with off color water regardless of light. By off color I mean brown and nasty. When you start to get a few feet of visibility and the river starts to turn to green I move to pink and then pink and purple. By the time you get three feet of visibility I go back to the old adage. Regardless, steelhead have a way of fooling you, and you never know if they are there or willing to move to the best presented offering. This is just another mystery that keeps us at the chase.