Featured Article

   On this page, I plan to feature articles from myself and other fly anglers/guides/fly shop owners/DNR types, etc. My goal is that the articles will be educational in nature, or provide general tips, or detail unusual or pertinent stories in the fly angling/conservation community.  Suggestions for articles are very welcome.
   At this time, my intention is to place the most recent article at the top of this page with the previous articles following it.  However, since comments from 'Followers' cannot be placed on this page, I will refer to articles in my blog home page so comments can be posted there.  Thanks, Twitch (11/2010)


BITE IT: Fly Anglers State Preferences for Fluorocarbon or Wire Bite Guards When Fishing for Esox

  What I know for sure is that if you fly fish for musky or pike, it’s wise to maximize your chances of landing the fish & the bite guard is an important part of the equation.

  While the overall properties of fluorocarbon and wire bite guards were addressed in the article:  BITE IT!  Properties of Fluorocarbon & Wire Bite Guard Materials for Esox, one should also consider that there will be differences present in the same material types among the different manufacturers.  For example, one brand of fluorocarbon will have more or less memory than another brand of fluorocarbon.  There are so many variables present when choosing a bite guard material, that some may simply elect to point at leader materials while saying, ‘eenie, meenie, minie, mo’.

  There is no solid right or wrong choice.  The only choice to be made is what is best for the particular angler and the manner in which he/she fishes.  Putting in a little research time can go a long way toward finding one’s own bite guard nirvana. And, getting a little feedback from fly anglers who fish heavily, including those who fish heavily for Esox, is a very good start.

  Nine of thirteen fly anglers responded to an e-mailed survey questioning which bite guard material they used when fishing for Esox, why they chose the particular material, and why they would/would not use the other material.  Many anglers provided photos, a couple provided their own bios, & all were happy to answer additional questions. They were then ‘interviewed’ and a profile of each fly angler was written.  These fly fishing guides and/or fly shop owners land anywhere from 12 to up to 1000 Esox per year in their boats, but all fly fish heavily and have fished since childhood. 

  The anglers are listed in alphabetical order, with those who use fluorocarbon bite guards listed first, followed by one angler who uses both, & ending with the anglers who use wire bite guards.  Most answered questions in the original survey format, but a couple used a paragraph format.  To prevent any comments from being taken out of context, the paragraph format was maintained.  (Posted by Twitch on 11/25-27/2010)

Ouitdee Carson

   When Ouitdee was 10 and living in central California, his father bought him a fly rod.  Ouitdee recalls strapping the 2-piece rod to his dirt bike and heading to the local pond to fish.  At the age of 16, he was happy to move with his family to Duluth, MN, since he knew he would have more opportunities to fish.
   Today, Ouitdee Carson, a licensed Coast Guard Captain,  works in information technology for Minnesota’s St. Louis County, and he also heads the Arrowhead Fly Angler Guide Service.  He guides for smallmouth bass, trout, and pike in Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin.
   The family-man, who says that fishing is his only hobby, has given seminars on fly fishing, provided fly tying demonstrations & classes, and for the last 5 years he has helped to organize the Take a Kid Fishing Day in his hometown of Duluth.
   While Ouitdee fishes both conventional gear and the long rod, he is passionate about fly fishing and loves to share his knowledge of fly fishing with anyone willing to learn.  He said, “It’s calm & relaxing to be out there.  The whole ambiance of fly fishing in general, there’s just something about it.”

Fluorocarbon Bite Guard for Esox

1)  What are the main reasons you have chosen to use fluorocarbon?
Easy to tie, underwater visibility, flexible, durable

2)  Why would you recommend fluorocarbon over wire?
Ability to tie a variety of knots that suit the situation.  Easier for any angler to tie on to the leader and fly with knots that they already know.  Can change out leaders quicker
and easier than wire.  Less visible to fish in both dark and clear water.  It’s much more flexible than any type of metal material which helps impart more action to the fly.  Fluorocarbon has a better stretch rate than metal which has no stretch; this aids in the shock factor on the initial bite or a hard quick run.  Fluorocarbon hardly ever gets kinks in the line, but it’s natural for thin metal materials to bend and kink.

3)  Have you ever used wire for bite guards?
Yes

4)  What pound test/type/color/length of fluorocarbon do you actually use?
40-80 lb 10” to 15”, clear

5)  Average number of pike and musky caught in a year?
40
     How many bite-offs/break-offs do you estimate you get in a year?
4

6)  Are there any situations in which you would choose wire over fluorocarbon?  If so, what are they and what wire type (single-strand, multi-strand, titanium..) & strength would you choose?    
Yes.  If I’m in an area with lots of smaller fish (<28”).  Or areas with high numbers of large unpressured fish.  I use 49 strand braided coated wire 20lb.  

7)  Is there anything else you would like to add?
Although fluorocarbon is very durable, it becomes very weak if any nick, cut, kink or fraying has occurred.  The bite guard should be replaced.  Large diameter fluorocarbon does get harder to tie nice clean knots.  The first goal of any fly angler is to get the strike.  If you’re not getting the strikes, then you’re not going to catch fish.  I think the low visibility and flexibility of fluorocarbon can only aid fly anglers when fishing highly pressured musky and pike of the Midwest.  Most of my bite offs occur with smaller pike and musky under 28”.
---

Tom Greenup

   Tom began fishing conventional tackle when he was 6-7 years old. He was born in Minnesota, but shortly thereafter moved to California. However, Tom would spend the summers with his uncle, fishing at Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. In 1964, he picked up his first fly rod and fished for blue gills and bass, but it has been the last 40 years that Tom has fished strictly with a fly rod. Tom stated that the largest musky he boated this year measured 46 inches and the largest bass was 22 inches.
   Tom and his wife are the owners of Ashegon Lake Resort, located in Couderay, WI., from which he offers his fishing guide service, covering Wisconsin’s Hayward-area waters. Tom has lived in the heart of musky country for the last 10 years, and with his drift boat he guides primarily for musky and bass, offering his services to anglers who fly fish and/or spin cast.

Fluorocarbon Bite Guard for Esox

1) What are the main reasons you have chosen to use fluorocarbon?
I like that it is very hard to see in the water and it allows the fly to swim with more action.

2) Why would you recommend fluorocarbon over wire?
Same as question #1.

3) Have you ever used wire for bite guards?
I have used wire bite guards of all types.

4) What pound test/type/color/length of fluorocarbon do you actually use?
I use clear 60 lb. for Musky and 100 lb. for Tarpon.

5) Average number of pike and musky caught in a year?
The average # of Musky caught out of my boat is 100.
How many bite-offs/break-offs do you estimate you get in a year?
We average two to three every year. Most are from Northern Pike.

6) Are there any situations in which you would choose wire over fluorocarbon? If so, what are they and what wire type (single-strand, multi-strand, titanium..) & strength would you choose?
I use wire when my client asks for wire. I usually use #40 stranded wire.
I also use #30 Rio and Cortland bite guard.

7) Is there anything else you would like to add?
The biggest danger of using fluorocarbon is the bite off factor. It’s always a gamble when you use fluorocarbon. So if you don’t like to gamble I suggest you use some type of wire.
---

Steve Kunnath

   Steve’s first memories of fishing include being on a sled and ice fishing when he was 3-years-old. Then, when he was 14, Steve and his dad bought fly rods from Cabela’s, but they ended up in a closet. Finally, in his early 20’s, the Michigan native picked up the fly rod for good.
   While Steve now lives (& fly fishes) in Livingston, MT., until last year the Coast Guard Captain guided for 6 years for pike, musky, carp, and smallies on the crystal clear waters of Michigan’s Lake St. Clair. He has fished for pike in Montana and he stated musky were also being planted in particular waters to contend with an over-population of suckers.
   Steve’s fly fishing experience includes angling for pike near the Arctic Circle to angling for tarpon in the Florida saltwater flats, to giving guest speaker appearances at outdoor shows & TU events. He continues to carve fish reproduction carvings made of urethane foam and plans to offer leaders and his sought-after musky flies on-line.

Fluorocarbon Bite Guard for Esox

1) What are the main reasons you have chosen to use fluorocarbon?
a) Its low visibility - Pike and musky are not supposed to be line shy but with the ultra clear waters of Lake St Clair I do notice a difference in the amount of strikes.
b) While fishing for esox I notice a significant increase in the number of hits from trophy bass, walleye, and salmonids etc. as opposed to when using wire.
c) With wire I had to change the leader after 1-2 fish due to it being bent etc. With fluorocarbon I can sometimes go up to twenty pike or 10 musky before changing out a leader.

2) Why would you recommend fluorocarbon over wire?
See #1

3) Have you ever used wire for bite guards?
I used wire for many years. It took me a few years to trust fluorocarbon but now it's all I use.

4) What pound test/type/color/length of fluorocarbon do you actually use?
For musky I use 80-100lb, pike 60-80, and 40-50lb when fishing for bass in areas with pike and I don't want to lose flies.

5) Average number of pike and musky caught in a year?
How many bite-offs/break-offs do you estimate you get in a year?
I never kept a record of fish in a season when guiding. In 6 or so years of guiding I only had one bite off and it was with conventional bait casting tackle. The customer adjusted the drag too tight and it was a fish 50+ inches. If you tighten the drag down too hard you will get some bite offs. With esox on the fly my leader is never over 20-30lb, the drag adjusted accordingly and no bite offs.

6) Are there any situations in which you would choose wire over fluorocarbon? If so, what are they and what wire type (single-strand, multi-strand, titanium..) & strength would you choose?
None that I can think of.

7) Is there anything else you would like to add?
Knottable braided wire is much easier to tie knots then with 80lb fluorocarbon. So for the last few years I have been using lock snaps and pre tie a couple before going out. That way I can keep switching flies all day or week with same leader.
---


Jared Ehlers

   Wisconsin native Jared Ehlers, 22, began fishing at the age of three.  He first picked up a fly rod when he was 6 or 7 years old.  Jared has worked for 'The Fly Fishers' in Milwaukee, WI, since he was 14 years old, and he is attending his 5th and final year at the University of Milwaukee.  The angler has guided for monster pike in Alaska the last full 4 summer seasons with 'Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures'.
   Jared's time on the water is evenly split between conventional tackle and the fly rod.  Jared states that one can learn a lot about being successful with a fly rod when one fishes with conventional tackle and, then, learn a lot about conventional tackle when fishing with a fly rod.  In 2009, Jared landed a 48" musky with a fly rod in Vilas County, WI.  His title for the World Record Musky, under the fly rod category in the catch and release unlimited tippit class of 'The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum', is pending approval.

Wire & Fluorocarbon Bite Guards for Esox

I use both steel wire (usually 30#) as well as fluorocarbon. Through the Midwest especially, the rule of thumb as I see it is use steel when you can get away with it and fluorocarbon when you need it. This is typically in reference to lakes that carry a color, whether a tannic stain like many waterways of northern Wisconsin or bloomy lakes during the summer. There are also plenty of crystal clear lakes that I feel need the fluorocarbon, especially as the lakes become more heavily pressured by traffic and anglers.

The wire I prefer is a multi-strand product called TyGer Wire, as such this is the only wire we carry in our shop The Fly Fishers. It is tie-able, and wire will simply last longer than fluorocarbon and with less risk of a one fish bite-off. Fluorocarbon can, and at times, wil get cut from the teeth of these fish. However, if the invisible properties of it are crucial to getting fish to eat I'd rather catch 9 and lose 1 than get only 2 to eat (for example).

I've guided for trophy pike (40+") in Alaska for the last 4 summers and we've handled literally thousands of fish each summer. Here we primarily use wire because of the water's dark colors and not-so-shy fish, and (as an experiment) we have been able to maka a TyGer Wire leader last through a few dozen fish before being able to break it by hand. We've also made fluorocarbon leaders last through plenty of fish but not as many as the wire before a change was 100% needed. Though when fly fishing muskies here in the Midwest and a single fish could mean the day, leaders are inspected 100% of the time after every encounter with a fish and throughout the day in general. The fluorocarbon I prefer is the Rio Fluoroflex, typically the 80lb size.

In summary I would say that one isn't better than the other, one is more appropriate than the other within certain fishing situations.
---

Pat Ehlers

   Capt. Pat Ehlers lives in Franklin, WI.  Pat opened his fly shop, The Fly Fishers Inc., in 1988.  He has been fishing for over 40 years and fly-fishing for over thirty of those years.  The angler stated that, as a teen, "Once I got car keys I just chased fish all over the Midwest."  Pat has guided throughout Wisconsin and the Great Lakes as well as in Montana and Alaska.
   Pat, a licensed United States Coast Guard Captain, has taught fly-fishing schools, fly-casting and fly tying classes around the country.  He has also been a speaker and instructor at shows and seminars throughout the U.S.  Pat is a regular columnist for Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine & he has appeared in other magazine and newspaper articles, as well as having contributed to books.  Photography is also one of his pursuits and lends itself well to his business. 
  

   Pat has designed a line of fly rods developed for warm-water fly-fishing for the Echo Fly Rod Co. of Vancouver, WA; the Pat Ehlers' Echo Edge 84 fly rod series.  He also has a series of fly lines he designed for fly-fishing for bass and muskies for the Airflo Fly Line Co. of England.  Pat is a contract/royalty fly tier and consultant for Rainy's Flies of Logan, UT. 
   The angler is a pro team or pro staff member for numerous fishing-related companies.  He has been a co-owner and an instructor for The Chequamegon Bay Smallmouth School in Wisconsin for 16 years, & he has served as a retail advisory board member of AFFTA (American Fly Fishing Trade Association).
   Pat participates in local and regional bass tournaments as well as "fly only" bass tourneys in the western United States.  He also fishes extensively for saltwater species.  His fishing has taken him from Alaska to Florida, as well as to Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, Central & South Americas, and the South Pacific.  However, Pat states that if he knew he had only 1 day left of his life in which he could fish, he would still choose to fish his native Wisconsin rivers. As far as whether Pat prefers to fish with fly fishing or conventional tackle, he said, "As long as I'm fishing, I'm happy."

Wire Bite Guard for Esox

1) What are the main reasons you have chosen to use wire?

I use Tyger wire almost exclusively because it is easy to tie knots with, it always stays flexible allowing the fly to swim well even after catching a number of fish and it just doesn’t break or get cut off.

2) Why would you recommend wire over fluorocarbon?
I can get by with a lot thinner wire than fluoro to get the same pound test. This gives me easier knot tying, better knots, better swimming action and less cut offs.

 3) Have you ever used fluorocarbon as a bite guard?
Yes. Fluorocarbon is a good leader material for use in extremely clear water and #80 or #100 is a good choice for trolling for muskies with conventional gear. Fluorocarbon also sinks as it has a specific gravity greater than water. This could help get a fly down a little deeper. Conversely it can affect a top-water fly’s performance in an adverse way because it will drag the fly down some.

 4) What pound test/type/color/length of wire do you actually use?
I generally use #30 but if I’m in trophy musky water or when fishing giant pike in Alaska I use #50. I will occasionally use #10 fishing smallmouth in rivers if I’m getting bite-offs on my bass leaders so I don’t lose fish or flies with a pike or musky by-catch.

 5) Average number of Pike and Musky caught in a year?
A lot. When we go to Alaska ever year we could be talking 80 to 90 pike in a day with fish approaching 50 inches.
How many bite-offs/break-offs do you estimate you get in a year?
I cannot remember being bitten off since I started using Tyger Wire.

 6) Are there any situations in which you would choose fluorocarbon over wire? If so, what are they and what pound test would you choose?
See answer to #3.

 7) Is there anything else you would like to add?
Another material that could have its place as a bite tippet is the braid like PowerPro. It is more bite resistant than mono and while I wouldn’t recommend it over wire, in a pinch it could be a help.
---

Casey Hackathorn

   Casey's early youth began in Kansas City, Kansas.  He lived in many other areas of the U.S., finally making his home in the Upper Clark Fork watershed region of the Missoula Valley of Western Montana. Casey began fishing at approximately age 3, was introduced to fly fishing during his college years, and has fished exclusively on the fly for 20 years.  With regard to the reason for his passion for fly fishing, Casey said, "The beauty of the sport draws you in a different way. And with warm water fishing, it's a kick to catch something on a fly rod!"
   Casey has guided primarily for trout for 8 years.  He is the owner/outfitter of Missoula Valley Outfitters, which employs independent fly fishing guides.  He sits on the board of the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana, and his background also includes fly fishing instruction, wilderness medecine, and swiftwater rescue.  He supports Trout Unlimited and is active in conservation in Western Montana.  Of course Casey fly fishes for trout when not guiding, but he also spends personal time in the summer chasing smallies and pike.

Wire Bite Guard for Esox

1) What are the main reasons you have chosen to use wire?
Wire leaders are dependably bite-proof, easy to use and change flies when you incorporate a snap on the terminal end, and are less visible in the water than large diameter mono.

 2) Why would you recommend wire over fluorocarbon?
See above.

 3) Have you ever used fluorocarbon as a bite guard?
I used to use 30lb hard mono straight from a mono butt section to the fly and still keep it in my bag for an easy-to-rig backup.

4) What pound test/type/color/length of wire do you actually use?
I use around 6-8" of single strand, 30 lb, 0.014", black titanium wire.

 5) Average number of pike and musky caught in a year?
I fish casually for pike on the Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Flathead rivers in Montana. I probably boat around a dozen pike a season.
    How many bite-offs/break-offs do you estimate you get in a year?
I haven't lost a fish to a bite-off or break-off in several years.

 6) Are there any situations in which you would choose fluorocarbon over wire? If so, what are they and what pound test would you choose?
I generally only use mono if I don't have a wire leader in the boat. I generally have a spool of 30' hard mono in my guide bag and if I run across a pike and need to rig up on the spot, a straight hard mono leader makes for an easy and quick bite proof setup.

 7) Is there anything else you would like to add?
-
---

Don Larson
  
Don 'The Pondmonster' Larson, who has made his home in northern Wisconsin for 15 years, primarily guides for musky and smallmouth bass. The Wisconsin native said that he started fishing with spinning rods when he was 8 years old and, when he was 10, his dad gave him a fly rod and also showed him how to tie a few flies. Don said, "I was catching smallmouths, walleyes, and northerns when I was ten."

   Don has fished with nothing but a fly rod for the last 12 years. He said that the year he switched to the fly rod he caught 82 muskies and thought, "Wow, this is a lot more fun than conventional gear and a lot more fun tying flies, too." Don stays fit in order to cast a fly rod all day and to row a boat in the northwest Wisconsin rivers and lakes in which he guides and fishes. When asked if there was anything else he'd like to add, Don happily reported that every client caught muskies this year.


 

Wire Bite Guard for Esox

1) What are the main reasons you have chosen to use wire?
I always use wire, even when bass fishing. I have had only two bite offs in my life, & both times I was using fluorocarbon. The small northerns will actually bite you off more than the muskies.

2) Why would you recommend wire over fluorocarbon?
I do not want to leave a fly in a fish.

3) Have you ever used fluorocarbon as a bite guard?
Yes, but I have not used it in the past two years.

4) What pound test/type/color/length of wire do you actually use?
Surfstrand by AFW, 40 pound test. It makes a really good loop at the end & I think it is less noticeable and let's the fly have better action than heavy fluorocarbon.

5) Average number of pike and musky caught in a year?
Arond 110-120 muskies per year & countless northerns.
    How many bite-offs/break-offs do you estimate you get in a year?
None.

6) Are there any situations in which you would choose fluorocarbon over wire? If so, what are they and what pound test would you choose?
No.

7) Is there anything else you would like to add?
~
---

Barry Reynolds

   When Barry Reynolds was a small child, he recalled a time when every day after school he and his father would go fishing.  “And it grew from there; a pure love,” he said.  Barry was 4-years-old when he started fishing, and he was age 12 when he gave all else up for a life on the fly.
   Born in California, Barry now resides in Denver, CO., and he has over 25 years of experience guiding fly anglers to destinations all over the world.  Barry still does a little guiding with clients who are ‘from the old days’, but he primarily hosts group trips to places such as Alaska, Brazil, and Guatemala.   Four years ago when fishing in Alaska, Barry landed a 54” pike weighing over 40 pounds.  While pike and tiger muskies are his first love, he says, “My big thing is, I like to travel all over the world and try all types of fly fishing.”
   Barry is also a certified casting instructor, a master fly tier, & is a contract tier with Umpqua Feather Merchants.  The angler is a pro staff member for many fly fishing companies. His articles and photographs have appeared in magazines, including American Angler, and Wild on the Fly, and he has authored several books, including: Pike on the Fly, Carp on the Fly, and Mastering Pike on the Fly.  He has also made guest appearances on outdoor radio and television shows & has produced fly fishing DVD’s.  Barry, who belongs to Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, speaks at those clubs on a regular basis.
   With regard to being a fly angler, Barry says, “I have far more of a connection to everything that I’m doing with a fly rod; it’s more intimate, to matching the hatch and selecting fly patterns. And, he states that he just loves the fight of the fish with a fly rod. Finally, he said, “The passion is for the big fish and the take, not the numbers.  I still love chasing them as much as ever!”  When asked if there was anything else he’d like to add, Barry responded, “Tell them to get out and fish!”

Wire Bite Guard for Esox

1) What are the main reasons you have chosen to use wire?
In the early years, late 70's and early 80's, I was using a heavy mono system that basically consisted of a 7ft level piece of "hard mono" like Mason of about 26lbs. I used this mono system instead of wire at the time because wire leaders at the time were heavy, thick, and basically a pain in the neck! Their rigidness allowed very little natural movement of the fly and as such I opted to use the mono setup instead. This did come at a price though, as numerous fish were lost to bite-offs, and frayed leaders required constant re-tying. Not ideal but at the time it was better than the alternative! Somewhere along the mid to late 90's wire bite leaders made giant steps forward, and are now much thinner in diameter making them softer and more flexible and even knotable! This huge advancement in steel leaders allowed me to make the complete change over to steel and stop my worries about bite-offs form pike while using the mono systems! I now always use steel leaders!

2) Why would you recommend wire over fluorocarbon?
Fluorocarbon is a great material for leaders but not for this type of fishing! I have played around with this material and have had miserable results with higher break-offs and cut-offs than I ever experienced with "hard mono". Fluoro, while stronger and thinner than original mono, seems to break much easier than hard mono once it has even the slightest abrasions!

3) Have you ever used fluorocarbon as a bite guard?
Yes! I have tried it straight and also in my mono-wire leaders and I have been completely unhappy with the results! See above #2!

4) What pound test/type/color/length of wire do you actually use?
For my wire setup I am typically using 20lb or 30lb nylon coated seven strand! If I can find it in a green, brown, or black color it is my preference as clear coated wire in the right conditions can give off major flash, spooking the fish! If clear is my only choice then I will take a black permanent marker and try and knock the glare and flash down a bit. This is especially important in gin clear water or clear water that is tea (tannin) colored!

5) Average number of pike and musky caught in a year?
500-1000!
How many bite-offs/break-offs do you estimate you get in a year?
With wire few if any and when it happens it is usually from a poorly tied knot.

6) Are there any situations in which you would choose fluorocarbon over wire? If so, what are they and what pound test would you choose?
No!

7) Is there anything else you would like to add?
With the advances in wire, small diameter, soft and pliable, knotable, it has become very user friendly and there is no reason I can think of that you should not use it over hard mono or fluoro!
---


Bill Sherer

   Captain Bill Sherer started tying flies when he was a 7-year-old & he said he’s been fishing all of his life.  Bill recalls the first ‘fish’ he caught by himself, and he said, “It scared me to death!”  He was 4 and fishing with a bobber.  When the bobber dropped below the water, he said he lifted the rod up and out of the water came a big old crayfish.  He said he dropped the rod on the dock and ran to get his grandfather.  The man pinched off the crayfish’s tail, threaded it on the hook on a baitcaster and caught a largemouth bass, which was mounted and now hangs in Bill’s home.  Bill said, “So, the first fish I ever caught was bait!”
   The Ohio-born angler who spent all of his summers in Northern Wisconsin, now teaches fly tying and fly fishing throughout the country. He is best known for his innovative and productive Muskie flies.  Bill is an IGFA and Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame World Record Holder for Muskie and Walleye on the fly.  He has published fly fishing and tying articles for Fly Tyer and American Angler, Midwest Fly Fishing, Hunting & Fishing News and other magazines.  He has been featured on the Versus Network in the Fly Fishing America Series and on the syndicated series Northland Adventures with Dave Carlson.
   Bill is a past State Council Chairman of Wisconsin Trout Unlimited and a past member of the Board of Directors for the Great River Council of the FFF, and he is on an FFF committee dedicated to maintaining high professional standards for all demonstration fly tyers throughout the FFF community.  Bill has designed flies for the past 15 years for Streamworks, 3M, and Pacific Fly Group.  His flies hold more than 15 World Records for both Freshwater and Saltwater species.  Bill owns and operates the We Tie It Fly Shop in Boulder Junction, WI, with his wife Dawn, and he guides fly anglers across Northern Wisconsin, especially for Muskies. 

Wire Bite Guard for Esox

I used to use 50 and then 60 pound test Fluorocarbon bite tippet material. I used Cortland brand and Hi-Seas brand and finally I tried Varivas - all 3 are considered excellent quality pure Fluorocarbon lines.  I thought they were great - at the time - then in one week I, (my clients), got cut off by big fish, (50+ inches), using the stuff, and that made me rethink my choices of bite tippets.

I always figured it was my responsibility as a Guide to get my clients into the fish, how they managed to handle them is not entirely my fault, but if there is an equipment failure, (that I recommend), then that is my fault - It is my job to make sure my clients have the best shot they can get at a fish without any mishaps from the equipment I provide them.  We are fishing and many things can go wrong, but I need to minimize them as much as possible.

Anyway, after those two incidents, I sent out to every company that made wire and other toothy fish tippet materials to see what would work best.  In my own crude testing style, I tried about 10 brands of wires and monofilament lines, (fluorocarbon and hard mono).  I tested them on Muskies, making sure I gave them all a reasonable chance to prove themselves, this testing took place over the course of an entire season while fishing by myself or with friends - never with clients.

I concluded that in order to use any clear lines you would need about 80 pound test to be sure the fish could not bite through it.  That would be ok, but by the time you get to that pound test, it has such a large diameter that the fish can see it easily which deters from the strike making that choice less than desirable.  Perhaps in very dark river water you would be able to get away with heavier mono type lines, but not in the clear waters of most lakes, and some rivers.  Also the environmental implications of using Fluorocarbon lines for any reason should negate any of its positive properties.  Fluorocarbon fishing lines can last anywhere from 10,000 to as much as 100,000 years in the environment - that's more than the half life of Plutonium, we should be ashamed of ourselves for even thinking that this stuff is good in our waters!

I tried tie-able wires and found them to be much less desirable. Also, they are stranded, which when subjected to bright sunlight show light from lots of different angles - making them highly visible in almost any types of water, except the afore-mentioned very dark rivers.  They also kink very easily, and once kinked, the Muskies will not touch the fly; they can see the wire and shy off.  I know Pike will take a fly with a kinked wire, but they are Pike, not Muskies.  So I threw the wire out as unacceptable also.

Then I tried Titanium wire - now that's a winner!  20 pound test, (which is all you need for fly fishing), is about the diameter of 1X, (.010) tippet material, making it almost invisible because of its small diameter.  You can tie knots in the stuff and it is very flexible yet will not kink up nearly as much as any other types of wires.  Because it is single strand and uncoated, (no plastic coating), it only shines light from one direction making it much less visible to the fish.  Titanium does have a stretch rate of about 10%, but that does not really affect anything since we are only using about 16 inches of it at a time.  The stuff will kink, but you really have to work hard to get it to.  The draw-back to it is that if you hit your rod with the tippet material while casting, you will most likely put a kink in the wire, and once the wire is kinked, (not slightly bent), it will fail at that point, so you must cut it back or replace it, but that is due to poor casting ability and not due to the fault of the wire.

I will admit you have to learn a few knots in order to use the stuff properly, but it does not fail - ever.  In the 4 years I have been using Titanium Tippets I have never had a bite off or a failure of the wire - ever.  I average about 150 Muskies and several hundred Pike each year. I'm sure of my tippet's ability to get my clients "fish of a lifetime" into the boat without any failures.  In the past 3 years we have landed about 20 Muskies over 50 inches, the largest is 54 inches, I trust this stuff more than anything I have ever used.
  
Since early September I have gone from tying the fly on (with the recommended clinch knot), to a using a crimping sleeve to attach the fly, I have had great success with this new technique, (which I was informed about by the manufacturer).  Using a number 2 crimping sleeve and passing the wire through the sleeve 3 times is sufficient to hold the wire without problems as long as you crimp it from both sides with the proper crimping pliers. This technique uses much less wire when you are changing flies.  The first fish we landed using the crimping technique was the largest I have ever had in my boat, a 54" monster which jumped completely out of the water before we landed her. Needless to say I am completely confident on this technique and have as much faith in it as I do in the wire.

You can go on You Tube and see how to tie my Titanium Bite Tippets by searching for " wetieit", it should come right up.

 





2 comments:

  1. Nice article, I've been a floro user, but think I need to use wire as I do suffer the occasional bite off and it can be very disappointing with a nice musky. Would love to hear what their knot systems for the wire are.

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    1. Hi John, thanks for your reply. I'd debated adding that information when I first wrote the article but at that time, the manufacturers seemed to recommend what types of knots to use for their products. Bill Sherer's website has typically been very educational. If you use his wire system I know he'd described his knot system in depth & may have had video somewhere for it. Thanks! ~Twitch

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