Monday, March 25, 2013

Tying One On at Java Java: Coffee, Friends & Folk Music! March 30, 2013

   Flies will once again be tied this Saturday, March 30, 2013, at Java Java Cafe, 836 E. River Drive, Davenport, IA.  Tying will start around 9:00 and last until noon. The coffee shop closes at noon.  

   I will contact local musician Joe Nobiling to see if he and friends would like to come out.  If so, it's a great time to enjoy folk music, learn about fly fishing & tying,  or just get out for some great java!!

  Thanks!  Come on out and tie some flies!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bio-Glow: A Review of Strike Indicator Putty

   Bio-Glow, produced by Loon Outdoors, is strike indicator putty that also glows in the dark when charged with a UV light or a regular flashlight.
   This pale yellow product did not leave a favorable first impression.  I opened the lid and the Bio-Glow was stuck to the container’s top and bottom like freshly chewed gum sticks to a shoe.  When I removed the putty from the lid, that tacky stuff really stuck to my fingers and it was difficult to thoroughly get off my skin.  Furthermore, to float it on the stream I had to use larger diameter putty than the diameter of Thingamabobber I normally use.

   Sounds pretty grim, right?  Well, I actually started to like the material a little… then a lot.  Now I wish I’d ordered another 1-2 containers of Bio-Glow or its non-glowing sibling, Biostrike. 

   As the directions read, wet hands when using the material.  Do this and there won’t be sticky putty on your fingers!  Streamside, it worked beautifully.  Fingers wet, I pulled out the desired amount and pinched it around my leader.  Done.  If I wanted to slide it up or down my leader, I did so and pinched the putty down again.  Then, I got on with the fishing.    So very fast & simple!! 

   I did have to apply more Bio-Glow than I expected to need.  I pinched off an amount similar to the diameter of indicator I typically use.  The Bio-Glow sank.  I added a bit more and it floated for 5 seconds or so before slowly drifting subsurface (It still indicated fish this way & provided a slower fly descent..hmmm..).  Finally, I added a little bit more and the indy putty floated fine with my 5/32” tungsten bead-head sz 12 nymph and sz 18 dropper.  I did expect a heavy splat but that didn’t happen.  Was it a delicate presentation?  No, but it didn’t land much differently than casting with the other style of indy. 

   The single piece of Bio-Glow was my indicator for at least 2 hours before I lost it.  This timeframe included working my flies free from snags, and hooking, fighting and landing fish.  It never moved from its original position on the leader unless I moved it.  And unlike my plastic indicators or the foam ones others use, the Loon indicator putty is biodegradable!  The next day, I used the putty again.  Only fishing for a short time with an indicator, I removed and returned it to its container to be used another day.

   I have not fished with this material at night.  However, I ‘charged’ it with light and took pictures.  The initial very bright light dimmed quickly but left a good amount of glow afterward.  Even after 10 minutes a smidge of glow remained.  The autofocus light on my camera continued to recharge the Bio-Glow so I couldn’t accurately depict how much the glow decreased over time.  To use this at night in current, I’d estimate that its optimal use would be 2 minutes prior to wanting to charge it again.  In still water, I suspect 5 minutes max of fish time between needed charges.  I hope to do some night fishing in April and will update this post if I do.

   At this time, I recommend giving Bio-Glow ($7.95/1.0 oz) a try.  Just like anything, it may not be optimal for all situations but I think it will do the job - & quickly- in a lot of them.  It’s extremely easy to connect to and reposition on the leader & that increases actual fishing time.  It stays in place in most situations and is meant to be re-used.  If lost, it is biodegradable.  After moving the indicator, a small amount of residue remains on the leader but is easily removed.  If you like the idea of a putty indicator but don’t need it to glow, Loon Outdoors also makes Biostrike ($7.50/1.0 oz), which is available in a few colors.  Check out Bio-Glow at your local fly shop or click this link to visit the Loon Outdoors website: 

   How much bang there is for your buck simply depends on how much weight you have below the indicator & how much putty you return to the container after each fishing trip.  The container is similar in diameter to a tippet spool, but twice as tall.  A firmer container or slightly domed lid would lessen the inconvenience of the tacky putty becoming pressed against the lid.  I used Bio-Glow for the first time when air temperatures hovered between 35-40*F.  The product was also kept slightly warm as it was located on an inside pocket of my wading jacket.  I am very curious to learn how well it will hold up to Midwestern summer temperatures (& freezing winter temperatures) and if the ease of application will change.  I am looking forward to  using it again.  Over time, I suspect updates will be added to this post. 

*Easy to use or to adjust up/down leader.  *Takes seconds to add to leader or to adjust.  *Remained in place on leader for prolonged time.  *Re-useable.  *Biodegradable & environmentally friendly.  *Compact container.  *Can glow in the dark. 

*May need more putty than expected.  *Container design makes putty stick to lid.  *Possibly better chance to lose a putty indy than another style of indy.  *Cost/use may be a con depending on how much product is required for the individual’s needs & environment. 

3/22-23/13:  I used 1 Bio-Glow indicator for 1.25 days of nymph fishing.  I made another indicator after the original got lost from my line while I was bushwhacking through some pretty thick stuff.  Temps were ~31-35* (I had to break ice off my guides on day 1) and Bio-Glow did stiffen, causing me to take a tiny bit longer to remove from container & place on leader.  No big deal.  It also seemed to take a little less product to float my dropper rig set-up (less than I reported in initial review) and at one point I even had split shot on the rig.  Does it float better when colder or is it me?  Later in the trip, esp the next day, I did have to move the Bio-Glow back into position a few times as it had slid down to the fly.  Once I gave a little pinch-twist to the body of the indicator -not just the ends- it remained in place.  Again, it was colder, I'd been fishing with it for many hours, and I was fishing an area with beaver dams with higher silt content (Bio-Glow did pick a little of this up).  It was still much easier and quicker to use than regular strike indicators & I'm fishing more efficiently because of this.
12/2013:  If putty starts to accumulate on the exterior of the container or interior of the lid, it becomes difficult to open the lid of Bio-Glow's shallow container.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Heap o Thanks for Making the 2013 HFFA Fly Fishing Show a Success

   The 39th annual Hawkeye Fly Fishing Show, held March 1-3, 2013, was evidently a darn good success!  I didn't get to our branch's Sunday meeting since fishing trumps meetings, but rumor has it that we were successful in generating a fair amount of funds for stream restoration in NE Iowa.  I also heard that the number of 'walk-ins' at the show was greater than expected and that the speakers were well-received.
   A public thanks goes out to fellow club members who put forth so much time and effort to make the show a success, as well as those people and businesses who donated items and services for the raffles and silent auction.  If you were one of the the lucky winners, please thank the merchants for their donations and tell them why you appreciated using their products or services!  Heck, even if you didn't win, if you know a particular business donated, tell them thanks the next time you visit the store.

   Thanks also to the tiers who donate their time, gas money, and lodging to share their knowledge with others.  As usual I spent money with the vendors and am always glad to see them.  They were also a very helpful and friendly bunch. Thanks!

   A club member had the bright idea of taping the presentations so other members who worked the show and didn't see the presentations could watch them at a later date.  I'm looking forward to a few hours in the near future of fly fishing tales, popcorn and beer.
   When I learn where some of the generated funds will go, I'll update this post.  Thanks also, to those who attended and filled the silent auction lists and the buckets with their tickets/contributions.  There would be very little funds for conservation efforts without your help.  Next year's 40th anniversary show is in Cedar Rapids.  I think it is going to be a primo show!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Perfect Iowa Blend of Trout, Rain, and Snow

   It was yet another great day to be out on the water.  Faced with not feeling well the previous day, I was grateful to wake up on Saturday, March 9, without a pounding head and with the knowledge that my friend, Jackfish Kate, was willing to fish at a moment's notice.  Thinking our planned weekend of fly fishing had been lost, we were still happy to hit the water by mid-afternoon.

   I'd received a couple of outdoor/fly fishing products in the mail recently and had been hoping for a rainy weekend to test out & review a wet/dry backpack.  Kate's and my curves land on opposite areas of the body and if we could be merged together, one might come up with the measurements of a Playboy Bunny!  So, I really wanted her opinion on the fit and comfort of the backpack - an item often designed with the average male in mind.  She was game & the review is forthcoming.

   We elected to fish Trout River, located southeast of Decorah, IA.  The next day we planned to fish N. Bear but those plans were thwarted by the potential of snow, ice, and wind.  Instead, we explored and fished Twin Springs, Decorah's urban trout fishery.  By Sunday, that stream was the color of milk chocolate, flowing high and fast.

   All fish were landed on Saturday and Trout River's water level was still low but certainly higher than last summer.  It was clear but not 'gin clear', as it had been during those warmer days.  As the day progressed, the water's cloudiness progressed as well.  Once again, I'm reminded that it was a perfect day to be out on the water!  We hiked in 10-12" of snow while rain lightly fell.  The fish were hungry and I had a decent amount of strikes on first casts.  The stream had not likely seen many recent fly angling visitors.

   Unluckily, I did not convert on many strikes that day and had a few 3 second fights which ended with finned winners.  I know Kate landed fish and I enjoyed watching her land her day's first rainbow at the same wide, slow hole where I had previously seen her land a trout on her first-ever day on this stream back in May.  I landed 6 fish total.  Unluckily & strangely enough, 3 were foul hooked on my sz 18 dropper.  I did not photograph the beautiful brown I landed in that manner.  Two rainbows, and my largest brookie to date all measured about 11-12 inches.  One bow was beautifully marked and the brookie, well, looked great like brookies always do.
   Conditions must have been prime, because these fish fought harder than I've ever felt them fight on this stream!  The bows hit my big nymph and the brookie went for the sz 18 scud.  All 3 fish had to be unwrapped from the dropper's tippet and one feisty fish managed to tie a couple of overhand knots in the tippet.  Later that night at a Mexican restaurant, Jackfish tongue-tied an overhand knot into a Maraschino cherry stem.  However, I think a twice-fin-tied overhand knot trumped her feat…

   On Sunday, after visiting Decorah’s Twin Springs and seeing the Upper IA River that it feeds into all in the same park, I’m already envisioning a multi-multi-species weekend this year:  pike, walleye, smallies, and trout!