Thursday, December 27, 2012

Last Time in 2012 to 'Tie One On' at Java Java

  There will fly-tying again this Saturday, December 29, 2012, at Java Java, located at 836 E. River Drive, Davenport, IA.  Tying will start at 9:00am and last until noon or until close.  Musicians have again been invited but their plans are currently unknown.  All are welcome!!!! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Fly Tier's Comparison of Lights made for Light-Cured Adhesives

** I've learned that using these light-curing products can make fly tying more efficient and creative, but these resins are not without their 'quirks'.  In another post I've provided tips and tricks to increase one's ability to successfully cure a resin and to maintain an appropriate resin-fly bond. **
*** I will be adding a review of the Bug Bond torch soon. It is currently in the mail! 4/25/14***
Loon Outdoors UV Power Light (added 6/23/13)
Sells for $34-39.99 online.  The light is slim, measuring approximately 4" long x .75"diameter & is slightly longer than the palm of my hand.  I've emailed the company to request specs.  The light houses a single bulb.  The light comes with a cordura & velcro case that can attach to a belt.  It also comes with a removable lanyard.  The on/off button nearly fills the lamp's base and the lanyard attaches near the base.  The light takes 1 standard (included) or rechargeable AA battery.  UV Mini Lamp:  It comes on a key chain, is well constructed, & takes 4 AG3 batteries (included).  Due to the decreased intensity of the bulb itself, of course it takes longer to cure LCRs.  Because it is only 2 inches long, it is easy to carry in a vest or wader pocket, along with a small tube of a Loon LCR, to quickly repair tears in waders, boat punctures, etc.  I started out curing LCR on my flies with this little lamp.  The largest con to the light is the battery type required for its use.  To locally purchase batteries costs at least as much as my lamp's $15.33 purchase price.  I bought batteries through Amazon more affordably but took a gamble that the batteries would arrive appropriately charged.    

Pro Curing Light from Clear Cure Goo
$25.24 at J Mac Sports, Moline, IL ($30-40.00 online). There are no claims on the packaging as to how well it works with UV adhesive products made by companies other than CCG.  Each light has 21 LED’s with a reported 100,000 hour life span (each individual LED or LED’s together, not specified).  The light literally fits in the palm of my hand and it has a wide on/off button at its base which is where the lanyard attaches.  It takes either 3 standard or rechargeable AAA batteries (not included).  Made in USA.

Spirit River UV Lightsaber
$12.37 at J Mac Sports, Moline, IL ($15.95 & less, online).  The packaging only reads, ‘Powerful ultra violet light for drying UV enhanced glues and epoxies.’  Their website is also posted and they claim 2% of their profits are donated to protecting the fishing environment.  Each light has 9 LED’s (I assume LED).  The light fits about 1” outside the palm of my hand & is sized similarly to a small flashlight with the on/off button situated near the thumb of hand.  A lanyard is attached to the base.  Package indicates 2 AAA batteries included.  The light actually requires 3 AAA batteries and they are all included.  China is printed on the battery housing.

Curing Rates -  Please note that I used Loon Outdoors UV Clear Fly Finish adhesive with these lights.  I can’t report how other adhesive brands would cure with these lights & many manufacturers recommend their light, claiming it is made to cure within the specific wavelength of their product.  When in doubt, use your product's light.  If not possible, first cure your flies with a light then place outside on sunny day to ensure a full cure.  My first impression was that the Spirit River light cured as quickly as the CCG product and maybe a hair faster.  However, after adding eyes, curing, & then building up the heads, it seemed the CCG light cured a bit more effectively.  The CCG light simply has more LED’s and a broader beam of light.  The differences were slight.  
   I used freshly charged AAA’s in the lights.  At first application of adhesive, I hit each half of each fly head for 5 seconds with a light.  That left the UV adhesives with the characteristically firm, yet tacky, feel.  After adding more adhesive & then eyes, I used 5 seconds of CCG light on one fly and ~5 sec x2 of Spirit River light on the other fly.  I did this to each of half of each head to ensure the eyes were adhered.  Then, I used more adhesive to cover the eyes and build up the head with similar light applications of about 10 sec each side.  After hitting each completed fly head a couple times with light, it seemed that no other changes would occur.  As seems typical, the heads had cured clear, with a firm but not hard feel, and were slightly tacky.  I took them outdoors into the sun to finish the curing process.   
   Initially, I used Loon’s UV Mini Lamp to cure my musky fly heads.  I’ve written about it previously but feel it is unfair to use this tiny, single-LED light as a direct comparison to the other lamps.  However, I can report that in my unscientific renderings, all 3 lights created a similar end-product over a variable amount of time. 
   Loon UV Power Light update 6/23/13:  The Loon light cured the LCR on my musky fly head quite similarly to the CCG light without any obvious differences in cure rate or amount of tackiness on the cured surface.  I used a freshly charged AA battery in the light.          

 Housing and Workmanship -  I personally found it uncomfortable to hold the Spirit River light and turn it off efficiently.  The CCG light felt more comfortable in my hand and this larger diameter light might be more comfortable in the larger man’s hand as well.  The on/off button was located where it was ergonomically easier for me to use it. 
   Both lights seem cheaply made, although they both got their jobs done.  The CCG light on the interior looks very cheap and the plastic battery housing was incorrectly labeled with the neg and pos contacts.  However, the CCG body is composed of magnetic and non-magnetic metals & all the threads to tighten the cap of the battery compartment are metal as well.  There is easy access to the battery compartment. The body of the Spirit River light is mostly plastic with 50% of cap threads also made of plastic.  Other than the threads it looks like it is made better than the CCG light.  However, I inadvertently unscrewed the Spirit River LED cap twice (I wanted the battery compartment) and had difficulty re-attaching it both times.  I also had difficulty re-threading the battery compartment portion.  Personally, I will not buy the Spirit River light due to this difficulty, especially when the product has plastic threads.
   Loon UV Power Light review added 6/23/13:  I felt I was able to comfortably use the Loon light in my hand, although the CCG light likely was the most comfortable.  The on/off button was also placed in the same position as the CCG light & had similar ergonomic ease of use.  The Loon light appears well-made, appearing to have the best quality construction of the 3 lights.  The Loon light, with a nice heft, is composed primarily of metal parts with metal threads attaching the the cap of the battery compartment. 

Summary -  While my review is far from scientific, I feel both lights did their intended job.  If cost is one’s main concern, perhaps the Spirit River Lightsaber would be a good choice.  Overall, I felt the CCG light cured slightly faster, was more comfortable in the hand, and was more user-friendly. I would take great care to avoid dropping either light.  ~Twitch, 11/30/12
   Loon update 6/23/13:  As expected, the Loon light was effective in curing its own LCR product on small and large flies.  Overall, the Loon light appeared to be constructed better & came with accessories that have a practical use.  It's cost is comparable to the CCG light. 
   A single bulb allows one to concentrate the light source over the area being cured & decrease curing time, whereas multiple, less-intense bulbs may produce similar overall light output but in a more diffuse area.  During the latter, more UV light spills onto the user's hands and the tying area.  On the flip side, if one of those weaker bulbs burns out, the light remains usable.  If the single-bulb light burns out, one best hope it's a sunny day so the fly can be finished!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stalking the Predator: November Musky on the Fly

   My angling pal, musky guide Brad Bohen, told me he had been in need of turkey feathers for fly tying material.  Do people who fly fish for musky always prefer a difficult path?  He told me he smacked a flock of turkeys the other day.  One big turkey dented the front end of his Land Cruiser.  His rod holder rack, loaded with rods, was knocked off the suv, but my pal got his tying material.  A few days later, he smacked a buck.  I guess he needed buck tail as well.  When I got in his vehicle I put on the seatbelt, secretly happy he doesn’t tie his flies with elk fur.

   On Friday, November 2, we were the only humans on the West Fork of Wisconsin's Chippewa River & the solitude was appreciated.  I spotted a large buck and, later, Brad spotted otters poking their heads through holes in thin ice hugging the shore.  The bearded, cigar-smoking musky hunter, known to proudly display his esox-bloodied fingers, grinned while he made ‘schnuffling’ sounds – otter calls.  I smiled & relished one of the main reasons I enjoy being around my fishy male friends.

   It was more than chilly that morning on the water, but by the time my cold fingers had warmed and the wet gloves were stripped away, the musky and me had thawed enough to do battle.

   We had 4-5 musky strikes and the first 2 were boated.  We also had a follow.  The third strike pissed me off.  The fish should’ve been boated, but was missed due to my quasi salmon-trout set.  I knew it’d be a let-down if the musky attacks ended on that note.  But later, during a possible strike, a splash occurred behind my fly.  On a firm strip set… the fly snagged a branch.  False redemption.  The last attacker of the day was a mini-musky – a super-sized Polish sausage with a big appetite and a bad aim.  It lunged over my fly during its single strike.  

   My first missed strike, or that ‘son of a bit%$’, as I called it (since those words seem to come out of my mouth at no other time except when I lose a fish), taught me a lesson.  I lost that fish simply due to my poor position in the boat.  Earlier in the day, I’d come up short with casts due to line catching under my boots. So, I stripped line and kept my feet planted while twisting my body to keep the rod tip pointed at the fly.  It’s hard to do a strip set when your elbow is jammed in your ribs, so the quasi salmon-trout set occurred & the musky was lost.  Lesson learned.

   Of course the successful musky hook-ups were exciting things!  We were fishing along a ‘belly’ of the West Fork.  Both fish attacked within 10’ of the boat.  On the first fish’s strike, my set did not take and I plunged the rod tip in the water and began the figure 8.  The fish immediately struck again and my strip-set was hard.  After a brief fight, we boated a thick-bodied musky.  Brad and I celebrated our first musky success together, passed a flask, & then took pictures.  While that first fish had been out of Brad’s line of sight, the 2nd musky attack was visible to both guide and client.  It was classic!  Almost casually, strip, pause… strip, pause… in the water.  The next moment the Beauford fly was slammed by a finned torpedo with teeth!  Strip-set!!  Yelling erupted from guide and client, and the more active fish fought hard against the long rod.  It took Brad a couple tries to lift the fighter from the water.  With the musky in the boat, I breathed more deeply.  We had not wanted to lose that fight.  Bite marks on our fish’s back from another musky were examined.  Brad took more pictures, and I released the toothy torpedo.

   We excitedly re-lived our musky moments, then I reported that all we needed was a good follow to obtain the trifecta of musky takes.

   I don’t think more than 5 minutes passed and this occurred.  

   I was stripping in line & my fly was at least 20’ out when & I silently questioned, “Is that a follow?”  I kept quiet, doubtful, yet trying to shift fully into ‘predator-mode’.  Moments later, my doubt turned into a statement:  “I’ve got a follow!”  Actually, I think Brad and I announced it simultaneously, but a couple seconds were a blur.  I do remember him adding, “And it’s a nice fish”, with a controlled excitement in his voice.

   It was a chunky musky over 40” long and landing it would’ve met one of my goals for the year.  What replays in my head now, is what followed the follow.  I hesitated on the strip just prior to starting the figure 8.  Somehow that tiny pause was different enough from the rhythmic ‘strip-pause’ which had kept the creature’s interest for at least 20 feet.  I’d been presented with one slim opportunity to hook a larger musky.  During the brief moment that my thought had over-ruled my instinct, the finned predator had won the game.

   The day had been great in so many ways.  For most fly anglers, good fishing and good company can’t be beat.  Yet, briefly, I was frustrated.  For the second year, I hadn’t met my musky goals. 

   Then, I remembered something.  I love this fly fishing journey.  I love the people and the waterways, and I love the angling challenges and adventures.  Making and reaching a goal is great.  But I think it’s the journey that gives an accomplishment its ultimate pleasure and value.  I’m loving the trip & there’s no need to rush. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Create Nail Knot with Looped Mono as the Tool

   I was cruising the internet and ran across this video from the Itinerant Angler.  It is very well done, but what really got my attention was how nail knots were created with a loop of mono vs. with use of a nail knot tool, or similar.  He ties the knot twice:  backing to fly line and fly line to butt section.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tying One On at Java Java

   There will fly-tying again this Saturday, Oct 27, 2012, at Java Java, located at 836 E. River Drive, Davenport, IA.  Tying will start at 9:00 and last until at least noon or until close.  As an added plus, folk/Irish musicians are coming!  Expect Joe Nobiling and others to be plying their strings and sticks while we anglers play with flies. Rumor has it, the coffee is the best in town!  All are welcome!!!! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Salmon Camp & the lisagene

   Salmon Camp is held yearly for 1 or 2 consecutive, extended weekends at the end of September/beginning of October as the king salmon make their annual run up the Pere Marquette River.  Friendly fly anglers converge on John and Rhonda Bueter’s property, located in Baldwin, MI, for a few days of camping, hardcore angling, & a major disruption to the normal sleep cycle.  Most fishing begins when regular folks are donning their pj’s, and the campfire festivities slow as regular folks wake up to start the day.  In the daylight, anglers can be found tying flies, napping, or telling stories about the previous night.  And, as one person said, and I know it to be true:  If you aren’t a nice person, you don’t belong at Salmon Camp!    

   The fictional fly fishing story you are about to read is based entirely on facts & the kindness of fellow anglers.

   Kate and I started the 6.5 hour drive from the IA/IL border to Baldwin, MI, Thursday morning on Sept 27th.  We avoided rush-hour traffic on I94 and found our way cruising into a world filled with color.  Our first fly fishing trip to Michigan was occurring near the peak of the fall color change.  Lovely.  We purchased fishing licenses from the helpful folks at BBT, Baldwin Bait & Tackle, who also directed us to Barski’s for lunch.  At the bar, we enjoyed chef-created pierogies and Kahlua cheesecakes, & then headed down the road.  At the Cloud 9 Resort, we met John Bueter’s wife, Rhonda, of whom John would later speak of with great respect.  She directed us to the Salmon Camp property.  

   After camp host John Bueter gave us hugs & a good ribbing, we got settled.  Gene, a tall, fit man with wavy, whitish hair, was on our right also setting up camp.  That evening I turned down Bueter’s offer to go fishing.  They were ready to go and I was not, and my license was not good until midnight.  While I also debated the wisdom of fishing this new water for the first time at night, I regretted not going.  But, a couple hours later when it was darker yet, another offer came & I headed out.  Kate stayed at camp.  Brian drove and Gene sat next to him, acting like a passenger-seat driver.  Good-natured bickering ensued.  I sat in the back with Mike.  Another tall man who I immediately liked; at first glance he had an unassuming personality, but displayed great character, humor, and intelligence.

   We drove to ‘Claybanks’, the flies only, catch and release section of the Pere Marquette River.  We came upon Bueter’s party of anglers after clumping down 144 wooden steps bedecked with a salmon slide -built years ago, when snagging was legal & there were no fish limits.  Bueter had just hooked into & landed a fish.  It was fitting that the ‘king’ of Salmon Camp would be the first to be recorded in my pictures of the trip. 

   While John Bueter had claimed that the use of a net was primarily to carry out trash, our fishing party planned to use one for fish.  But… we forgot it.  Soon after I hit the water I had a sizeable fish hooked.  It was my first salmon of the trip, and it was fair-hooked in the mouth!  I successfully fought it.  It did break off, but we considered it a catch.  Gene had attempted multiple times to land it by the tail, but it continually garnered enough energy to elude the experienced angler.  Then, my tippet finally surrendered.  If we’d had a net, fish and fly angler would’ve posed for pics.  I headed to shore to rebuild my leader under more light.  Gene followed and sheepishly asked, “Are you mad?”  I laughed.  It was a nice first fish, hooked fairly, and we’d had a fun fight.  I’d had a great introduction to night-fishing for salmon!

   The next day, I assured Kate that the night fly fishing came fairly easily with use of headlamps, and under a full moon that would light the water near midnight.  Watching a string of headlamps bobbing along the shore, listening to the loud splashes of salmon, and watching others ready their tackle around small tents of light elicited feelings only truly shared by experiencing them.  On this 2nd night on the water, I returned to the bank to sit with Mike and Brian, talk of fly fishing, enjoy the moonrise, and share their flasks of brandy and vodka.   I also photographed Kate with her first salmon. 

The lady beamed as she posed with a salmon whose tail symbolized it was no longer ‘fresh’.  She caught many more and many ‘fresher’ fish during her 2 nights on the water, but I knew she loved this style of fishing after she bagged that first salmon.

   The night of the lisagene was a bit of a blur.  Was it the 2nd night or the 3rd night of fishing?  Was it the night preceding the:  ‘til 530 AM campfire with the communal sharing of a variety of fine alchohols?  Or was it the following night?  Salmon Camp is for the hardcore angler and there is a reason it only lasts a few days/nights.  We were looking & feeling pretty rough after the 1st couple nights!  What I do remember from that 2nd or 3rd night were the lessons given by a tall, wavy-haired man and our lisagene.

   That night, Gene put me on some good holes and had me experiment with his rod, loaded with floating line and a different leader set-up.  We fished together and separately, but Gene remained nearby.  I yelled ‘Fish on!’ a few times, but then the line would go slack. 

   Many fish had come up onto what we termed ‘the flats’, and we were excited.  Gene soon hooked a fish and I heard, “Lisa, come over here”.  He wanted me to fight his fish.  I didn’t want to, partially due to ego (I wanted to hook and land my own) and partially because I wanted the man to enjoy the pleasure of fighting his fish.  He persisted & said, “Lisa, come over here and fight this fish!”  I did it for Gene, because he was so kind and because instinct told me he had a reason to be so persistent.

   Before giving me the rod, he quickly asked if I knew how to set the drag with my finger.  I shrugged and said sure.  Well, I didn’t know how to set it for king salmon but I learned quickly.  Whoaa!!!!!  Then I knew why Gene had been so persistent.  A main attraction for fly fishing is that one can never stop learning how to become a better angler.  However, the anglers I meet continue to teach me that one can never stop learning how to become a better person. 

   I recalled the lessons given by Gene the first night and from Bueter earlier in the day.  I did not high stick and I kept the fish less than 90* from the rod tip.  No trout, bass, pike, or musky had ever pulled line off the reel like that and I traded off between setting drag with my fingers to attempting to control the fish from the reel.  The latter attempts left me with a bruised finger but got me laughing that night!   I followed Gene’s instructions, attempting to guide the fish toward the net.  Mostly we enjoyed the excitement of the fight, having the greatest of fun!  Then, the fish streaked downriver and I didn’t give enough slack.  It was gone. 

   Back at shore, Gene re-rigged his leader and I was honest with him about what I’d been feeling when he asked me to fight his fish.  I thanked him for what he’d done.  Then, we were back on the flats, fly fishing.  I felt excitement when he called me over again after hooking another strong fighter.  There were no arguments & this time I brought that fish in and Gene netted it.  We were alone on that stretch of water, so I posed for pictures with the lisagene.  When the camera flashed, I wish Gene and I could’ve stood together holding that fish.

   On Sunday, I helped Gene pack up his tent.  Most of camp had broken up and headed home.  Brian and Mike had left.  Kate & I said our good-byes to Gene, and that evening we announced that we were heading to Claybanks ahead of our small group.  I wanted her to see the Pere Marquette in the daylight.  It is a beautiful river.  We passed other anglers but by the time we were ready to fish, it was dark and the water had become our own.  Kate started fishing first and I waded upstream of her.  No sooner had I started casting when she told me she had a fish on.  I waded back to her, helped her land it, took pictures, and we headed back out.  I scouted the holes as I waded back upstream and spotted 2 fish.  One was very large and ‘fresh’.  I targeted that fish but it wasn’t destined to be mine.  Kate was on a roll so I headed back to her.  It was fun to help Kate land fish as others had done for me.  Also, I’d never landed a sizeable fish by the tail, and was excited to do so.  By this time, headlamps bobbed along the banks and soon the remainder of the ‘Salmon Campers’ shared our water.

   That night, ‘Jackfish Kate’ landed too many fish to count.  I never got the chance to target that large fish again, but other fish made up for it.  By then, I’d figured out how to cast to avoid many foul hooks and did not set the hook when I felt I would snag fish.  However, I used that knowledge of the fishes’ positions to adjust my cast & eventually hook and land fish.  The ‘newbies’, as we had been called, were doing well.

   My first fish was a ‘fresh’ male, large, and a good fighter.  John, a young guy with a soothing voice, asked if I wanted help netting it.  He was fishing but was magically present to help land all my night’s fish.  After we removed my fly from its mouth, and others’ flies from its back and fins, that fish and I posed for pictures taken by Kate and John.  As taught by John Bueter, facing upstream I placed the fish between my feet.   After it recovered in security, I released it.   

   Throughout that night, Gene, John, John Bueter and others were at my side or at least their words and actions were in my thoughts.  Every time younger John netted my fish, Gene’s instruction to use the rod to lift the head of the fish and then release the tension on the rod to let the fish slide into the net, would resonate in my head.  I enjoyed sharing the water with our small group.  The lisagene did not take my fly that evening, but that fish’s job was done.  It had rooted lessons of kindness, giving, and sharing in me and then moved on.  It’s written that Pacific salmon (including king salmon) spawn once and die.  However, the lisagene is an exception.  That fish works its way upriver yearly, fighting hard to spawn new learning and life-lessons in others. 

   While I did finally land a fair number of salmon, none remotely compared in power, fight and spirit to the lisagene.  If you ever wish to fly fish for king salmon, I recommend visiting Salmon Camp.  I suspect the lisagene times its arrival to coincide with the appearance of those friendly anglers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tie One On at Java Java

  I'll be tying flies this Saturday, Sept 22, at the coffee shop, Java Java, on Davenport's River Drive.  I plan to arrive around 9-930.  The shop closes ~ noon-ish.  A friend had asked if I was going to tie one on this weekend.  Oh!  Well, I need to get some salmon flies tied for my first-ever fly fishing trip to Michigan, so why not?! 

  Come join us to tie flies, drink coffee, or whatever floats your boat.  All are welcome.  Sorry, no musicians this time.   ~Twitch

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Water-Tested & Musky-Approved


                         BB's FORAGE                                  

   BB’s Forage is a Musky Fly created almost 3 years after I first fished for musky.  Prior to this (hopefully) toothy delight, all of my musky ties were originated by others or heavily influenced by another’s creation.  While I can’t say that this pattern is bereft of other tiers' influences, it is not based on anyone else’s recipe.  It’s about time!

  I've written an article to supplement the recipe.  It details what I'd hoped to accomplish (for ex: to create a faster-sinking fly), why particular materials were chosen, why they were tied-in in a particular manner, the fly's castability, & how the fly presents in the water.   If there is an interest, I can post the article or answer any questions.  Just use the comment section or drop me an email.

  I've test-casted the flies and was (surprisingly) exceedingly pleased with the results.  They have yet to swim in musky water, but I consider them water-tested and musky-approved!  See my Fly Tying page for the recipe.  Thanks, ~Twitch (posted 9/21/12)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Musky Guide, Time, and A Fly ~ The WI-MN Diaries (Part 6, Sept 2, 2012)

    In Wisconsin’s Northwoods, Columbus Day, 2009, we were smack in the middle of a cold front.  What it meant on that day was that what was left of color on the trees was being lightly coated in soft, white flakes.  It was a beautiful, overly-quiet day on the water.  What it also meant was that there were absolutely no signs of fish.  What this meant was that for a guide who was trying to put a gal onto her first fish of 10,000 casts, his work was really cut out!  If a musky rewarded an angler based on the guide’s efforts, I’d say we would’ve at least boated a 45”-er.  However, during my final casts in the darkening light, after we abandoned the drift boat to wade and use the smaller ‘Angry Minnow’ pattern, I landed my first Esox!  It was a pike.  It fought valiantly for a couple of seconds.  Then it spotted me & thought, “Screw it! That gal deserves a fish.”, and gave up.  I was happy.  I’d landed my first toothy critter & that earned me the right to keep the fly.  We celebrated at the ‘Angry Minnow’ pub in Hayward, WI, with food, brew, & a couple shots of tequila.

   I don’t remember if it was that day or in a thank-you email, but I’d promised Brad Bohen of Hayward’s Musky Country Outfitters, that I would tie him a musky fly.   I doubt he remembers that but I keep my promises.  The first flies I’d learned to tie were from Brad’s Hang Time recipe.  Other patterns I’d tied were based on others’ recipes.  Most of my musky to date have been landed with a cool color combination of Brad’s Hang Time, but why send a guy a fly of a pattern he’d created?

   So, with Oct 2009 simply a pleasant memory, in Sept 2012 I tied my first original musky fly.  I also hired Brad again.  The recent musky bite had been slow, but he put me on great water.  I had a couple of strikes & a couple of follows!  He instructed & managed the boat exceedingly well.  In short, he did a great job while I casted fairly well, but didn’t ‘fish’ as well.  There is a difference.  I learned a lot to improve my skill and that, honestly, was my main goal.  And, while I did take my first prototype of that musky fly along, I didn’t fish it.  At that time it was nameless & I was skeptical of its potential.

   So what did the man teach me?  Well, I learned when someone tells you to do something during the figure 8 on a musky follow --that everyone else tells you not to do for trout and bass fishing-- certain phrases, such as ‘strip in to the leader!’, become ‘strip in to the kajhyr!’ during the disconnect.   So, the musky simply swims away.  The guide, on the other hand, is reaching for your rod, firmly telling you he’s got something to show you.  It was not his palm and I did not end up wet.  So, I am now a pro at the figure 8.  And if the musky should swim away,  I agreed not to cast fly after the musky but to keep stirring the fly.  Brad also counseled me about how a good partnership between rod and line make less work for the angler.  My rod was underlined & I’d developed some bad habits which I am correcting.  I learned how a buoyant fly and a sinking line can work well to increase the action of the fly.  I learned that Brad has nice legs.  I learned more about musky haunts and when to set the hook (the musky were soft-striking that day).

   I also learned it’s much more uncomfortable to car-camp the night after a guide has learned you cast better with the left arm & he is also excellent at positioning the boat.  I learned the guide does not care if you cast 3 times in 8.5 hours with your weaker arm on less productive water, but he will order you to use your stronger left arm on that 4th cast because you have just entered productive water.  A good guide will do that.  That night when you finally drop to sleep, nestled on a pillow & laid out ‘just so’ over your front and rear suv seats, some unhelpfully helpful person knocks on your window to see if you are alright, and your sore left arm makes a punch toward the glass… it reinforces the importance of the guide's 2 false-cast per cast rule when you're fishing in the Musky Capital of the World.

   I’ve also fished with Brad & others a few times over the years, not as a client, but as a friend.  One does not grill their friends about their musky ways.  It is not polite.  And, for quite a while, I’ve had a ‘feeling’ that I would boat a large musky when Brad was also in the boat.  I’m happy to say that I have a rare opportunity to hit the water again (in November) as Brad’s client.  A grilling may be in order!  Or maybe it is just time to put into action what I’ve learned in September & days past; fly fishing for musky in water so unlike my home water.  Maybe it is time to grow from being the student on the fly to also being the fisher on the fly.  I do hope my ‘feeling’ becomes a reality & we boat a big, toothy musky.  But whether Brad is there physically or not on the day I hook into that large Esox, I suspect his presence will still be felt.

   Oh, and one more thing:  For a couple of years, I’d decided my first original musky fly would be called, ‘Forage’.  However, I’m going with BB’s Forage.  I’m year's late sending him the promised fly, I landed my first Esox with him, and he’s shared his musky addiction very well with me.  Heck, I think the guy deserves a fly named in his honor.  On November 2nd, maybe I’ll learn if my fly lives up to his musky-on-the-fly record-holding reputation!       

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hayward - Musky-bound!!!

   Finally heading back to Hayward this weekend!  Back in June I fished the Namekagon for trout and then headed to Chequamegon Bay to meet up with a friend for smallie fishing and sand camping. Timing for musky just wasn't in the cards on my birthday weekend.
   But now..... oh baby..... it's time for Musky!!
   Hitting the water with Musky Country Outfitter's head guide & friend Brad Bohen.  The water to be fished, as yet, is a mystery but I have faith Brad will get us the best opps for tail-walking toothiness!
   I tied up a new Musky fly.  It's current name is: Prototype... as that is exactly what I think it will turn out to be when it hits the water!  However, you put a little passion, a decent amount of thought, and a late night into something and it just needs to find some Esox water to truly discover its swimming potential.
   I have two months of work-free weekends.... just so I can drop most anything for a chance to hit the Musky trail.  Bring on that fall feedbag!!!!!!!  Let's hit the Musky Trail. Yeah baby!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

UV-Cured Adhesive (Resin) & Buoyancy of Fly Tying Fur for Musky Flies

   So, I sat down tonight to tie a musky fly.  I planned to experiment again with skunk tail.  Then, I recalled the one skunk fly I did fish was fairly buoyant in the water –something I didn’t want occurring with the next fly. 

   At that point, my plans ran amuck.  Experiments with buoyancy of 3 fly tying materials occurred, along with readying a few newer flies for an upcoming musky trip.

   I examined another skunk fly and a couple other musky flies I'd fished this weekend.  Then, I reinforced some fly heads with Loon UV Clear Fly Finish.  BTW, I give this resin –at this time anyway- an ‘A’.  If it didn’t still feel a little ‘tacky’ after hitting it with my Loon UV mini light, it would get an ‘A+’.  I make it a point of setting the flies outside in the sun for a short time and most of the tacky feeling is then gone.   I believe this commonly occurs with many light-cured resins.  The tiny version of the Loon UV light also has an on/off button which is easily pressed.  If thrown in a bag and there is pressure on the button, one may later discover the light has dead batteries.  If my opinion later changes on the resin I will post something at that date.  For now, I believe if one uses a good light-curing resin, there is no going back to other adhesives for big fly heads.  Time is precious.  (BTW, I've reviewed a couple of resin-curing UV lights.  Here is the link:   ** I've learned that using these light-cured products can make fly tying more efficient and creative, but these resins are not without their 'quirks'.  Following more research, I plan to post tips and tricks to increase one's ability to successfully cure the resin and to maintain an appropriate resin-fly bond.  In the  meantime, visit your product's website for more information.  If your questions aren't answered there, visit the competitors' websites; chances are you will find some answers.  UPDATE 1/9/13: 'Tips for Use of Light-Cured Resins' to be posted very soon!)
   Now on to ‘the nonscientific hairy experiments’:  I filled a glass bread pan with water.  Then, for the first test, I cut similar amounts of fur from near the tips of a skunk tail and a slightly crinkly buck tail.  I also cut fur from near the base of another skunk tail.  I placed all 3 bunches of fur on the water and they floated on the surface for ~20 minutes.  Then, I pressed each down uniformly below water level.  The slightly crinkly buck tail was the most buoyant, remaining in the surface film of the water with tips slightly lower.  Surprisingly, the skunk tail taken from near the tip floated mid-surface (tips slightly lower) while the skunk tail from the tail’s base sunk to the bottom.  After 8 minutes, I pressed down again & there was little change in the buoyancy, except that the buck tail and skunk tail (taken from the tail’s tip) had sunk the tiniest bit more in the water column.

   Then, to compare the base and tip of one skunk tail, I took hair hanks from the base and tip of the tail which had previously sank to mid-surface.  Again, the hair taken from nearest the tail’s base sat lowest in the water with the tips lower.  Buck tail again remained in surface film and & skunk fur taken near tail’s tip presented with tail tips mid-surface & base in surface film.

   So, to be clear, the slightly crinkled buck tail (fur taken near the tip) was the most buoyant –sitting in the surface film, the skunk tail with fur taken closer to the tip, sank to mid-surface, and skunk tail with fur taken near the base sank the lowest- just at/near the bottom.
   Then, I tested natural Yak hair (red) and more buck tail.  One tail (brown) was straight & had a sheen I wished my hair had.  The other tail (orange) was fairly crinkly.  I again cut similar hanks of hair & both buck tails were taken from near the tip.  I set the hair in the water and after ~1 minute I pushed each one uniformly down to the bottom.  The yak hair remained on the bottom.  No 2nd-guessing the depth of that one.  The tips of the crinkly, orange buck tail sank to the upper portion of water’s mid-surface.  The smooth, brown buck tail was buoyant, remaining in the surface film with the tips sinking slightly lower.  Then, I cut fur from the base of the fairly crinkly, orange buck tail.  Pressing it in the water similarly, it remained very buoyant, sitting the highest of all the tying material, even after 10 minutes.

   In summary, if your goal is for your musky fly to sink, the more expensive natural yak hair is your best bet.  After this, the ever popular skunk tail with fur taken closer to its base is 2nd best choice.  The skunk tail with fur taken from near the tip (it sat mid-surface) is still a 3rd good option.  Crinkly deer hair taken from near the tip would be my final choice.  If you want your fly to remain fairly buoyant, look for that crinkly buck tail, taken from the base.  That sexy, shiny, straight buck tail, taken from the tip, is a good 2nd choice.  I imagine that fur taken from the base of this latter type of buck tail would also be a good choice (but I forgot to check that out). 

   I won’t promise that you will have the same results in your tying room.  However, it doesn’t take much time to trim off a hank of fur, immerse it in a little water & experiment for yourself.  Back to that buoyant skunk tail fly:  the skunk fur was taken from the tip & I also incorporated buck tail, most likely taken from near the base.  A few feathers had been tied in as well.  Now I know why I had a buoyant fly!  As far as buck tail goes, generally if you tie with the fur from the base, it will flair more.  It is also generally longer than the fur at the tip.  These were characteristics I desired when attempting to create a larger, bigger profile fly, but now I fully realize the trade-off.  I sense a new, quicker-sinking musky fly in my near future!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Project AWARE's Trash and Treasure Discoveries on the Iowa River ~ 2012

   This year participants in the Iowa DNR’s 2012 Project A.W.A.R.E. had over 60 tons of fun, nearly twice the amount of fun (32 tons) they hauled out of the Turkey, Little Turkey and Volga Rivers last year!   Yes, from July 7-14th, volunteers and landowners removed over 60 tons of trash from 93.6 miles of the Iowa River.  No one measured the pounds of water in sweat they donated to the river on those 90* days, but the weight of recovered trash is nearly the equivalent of 38.2 new AWD Honda CR-V LX SUV’s.
   There were 1,371 tires and a few tons of scrap metal hauled out of the river, and there were 387 participants with an average of 146 volunteers on the river each day.  Volunteers, aged 3-78, represented 8 states including as far west as Oregon. 
   Happily, 86% of the trash was recycled.
   Brian Soenen, Project AWARE Coordinator, once again kindly responded to my questions about this year’s Project A.W.A.R.E. event.  An excerpt from his response, quoted below, leads one to believe that this year’s project may be talked about for years to come.

   From Brian: 
   There were a couple good stories this year:
         An old (1800s?) plow, complete with some wood still in place, was pulled from the river and donated to the Steamboat Rock Historical Society.
         A man upstream of Iowa Falls was planning to go out in the winter to recover the front end of a 1951 Dodge Diplomat (he didn't know how else to get it), so when he saw it floating downriver on a canoe, he asked if he could have it. I told him he owes me two with the front end from the river and another of the restored vehicle. When he called me, the first thing he said was, "You have some of the craziest most dedicated volunteers I have ever seen!"
         When digging out a large metal culvert, volunteers encountered a 30+ lbs. catfish, which freaked out some volunteer bystanders when it swam past them. The culvert was removed, catfish freed, and the frightened volunteers are recovering nicely.
         It's not trash, but something that surprised volunteers on AWARE were the number of mussels along the route. In at least one area, they noted a mussel bed with mussels "too numerous to count". Jennifer Kurth, who studies mussels for IDNR, also found species that have never been recorded in the Iowa River (i.e., creek heelsplitter).

   For more information about Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition), & methods of participating in the clean-up of Iowa waterways, please visit this link:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Variation on the Shannon's Fly

On a visit to Lake Carlton, Rockwood-Morrison State Park in IL, I came up empty-handed when fishing... except when using the Shannon's Fly and a varient of this fly (pictured).  Bass love the Shannon's Fly but the bass and panfish were hitting the variation more heavily on this day when the temp was 92* and the water temp a mere 90 degrees.  The variation also sunk more readily than the original, which was a great benefit as the fish were not hanging in the shallows.
   For more information on this easy tie, please see the Fly Tying tab.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 21. Tying Flies with Music and Coffee to Benefit our Java Friends!

(Update 7/19/12: Joe Nobiling, playing the fiddle, and Howard Hilliard, on the bodhran, will be playing folk and Irish tunes from 9:30-11:00 on Saturday! This will be the last tying session at least until the end of August.  Come on out!....7/21/12: formally, 3 musicians & family members and 5 tiers did their thing and had fun at the shop. Someday I suspect a little dancing will happen there as well. Thanks for coming out, drinking, eating, tying and playing/listening to the folk tunes!) 
We'll be tying flies this Saturday, July 21, 2012, at Java Java, located at 836 E. River Drive, Davenport, IA.  Tying will start at 9:15-ish and last until at least 11 or noon. As many know, part of the road is closed.  A detour is posted and the city has placed signs directing customers to the coffee shop.  The detour route I take adds under 3 minutes to my usual drive.  Directions are posted below as well.  Don't forget that the Farmer's Market is also going on!
   Local musician, Joe Nobiling, was kind enough to approach shop co-owner, Daron, about playing a benefit for them.  As folks can guess, the at least 2 month (so far) road closure has slowed business at the cafe.  I think I'm not the only one who is a repeat customer d/t not only great drinks and food but also because of the very personable folks who create those drinks.  Come on out & learn to tie a fly... &/or listen to music provided by some great local musicians!  But don't forget to at least buy a coffee or a latte!!
   I still need to get confirmations on the music and will post any updates to this very post.  They generally play folk/Irish tunes.  A time that musicians would start arriving will also be posted.  

My DETOUR DIRECTIONS:  Heading from Bettendorf on East River drive, right on Bridge Ave, continue uphill & follow detour sign, left on East 10th St.  Then, I go left on Oneida down the hill and take a right on the alley behind Wonder Bread just past Charlotte St. At the end of the alley, cross the street and keep going straight into the next alley. Go left on Tremont, go down the hill and just past the light blue house is Java Java.  2 min 30 sec.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tying Flies at Java Java in Davenport

  Update: Thanks to fellow fly-tier, Bill O, and musicians Joe Nobiling ( and John Kinser, for coming out to a cool place on a hot day!  It was great to have musicians present again! Spoke a little to others about musky and bass flies and the Java owners' son picked out a cool-looking chartreuse and black Guinea Bugger Deluxe to take home.  Maybe he'll tie a fly the next time. 
  Tying at Java Java is often last-minute during this time of year as actual fishing takes precedence and then there are those dang work weekends.  So, I typically post only a few days ahead of time if we'll be tying at the shop.  If you ever want to attend but think you'll miss a blog post, send me your email address and I'll drop you a line for the next date and time. ~Twitch

  I'll be tying flies this Saturday, July 7, 2012, at Java Java, located at 836 E. River Drive, Davenport, IA.  Tying will start at 9:15-ish and last until at least 11 or noon. As many know, part of the road is closed.  A detour is posted and the city has placed signs directing customers to the coffee shop.  The detour route I take probably adds only 3 minutes to my usual drive.  Directions are posted below as well.  Don't forget that the Farmer's Market is also going on, so it's a great morning to head to Davenport.
  Thanks!  Come on out and tie some flies!

My DETOUR DIRECTIONS:  Heading from Bettendorf on East River drive, right on Bridge Ave, continue uphill & follow detour sign, left on East 10th St.  Then, I go left on Oneida down the hill and take tight right on Charlotte St, left on Kary, and then, again, right on Charlotte (brick), left on Tremont. Go down the hill and just past the light blue house is Java Java.  2 min 55 sec.