Archive for the Rods and Gear Category

More Cats, Carp, and Even Some River Otters

What made this day stand out in my mind is my trip into the heart of Missouri River dankness, where i witnessed what i at first thought must have been waves from the largest catfish i had ever or would ever see in my life.   It was unreal, massive waves 8-10 inches tall and a baby duck swimming out from the swampness  for its life.  As the baby duck nearly reached the other side of the small oxbow three otter heads emerged from the water in hot pursuit of the duck.  Then they spotted me and directed their attention in my direction, making strange sounds i can best describe as a cross between a cat hissing and purring at the same time.  We had a face off for several seconds, then i reached for my camera  and everyone disappeared.  Didn’t see what happened to the little duck, but I think he got got.  It all took place in this backwoods oxbow i had to whack my way  into…making sure i was covered in bugs pray and a thick hoody cus the skeeters were for real!  There were a lot of Grass carp, Asian carp and Buffalo back in the oxbow, I landed several hard fighting Grass carp before making the call to head back out to the creek where i went back to fishing for catfish and unsuspecting carp.

 

Kayak Rig for Fishing

Ever tried to fish from a kayak? It can be downright maddening if you’re not rigged correctly.  Here’s how I’ve done it…if you love to fish and you’re looking at getting a kayak or if you already have one, here’s some stuff you can do to make your rig more fishable.

Start simple then build.  The first thing I would do is add some paddle holders to the yak.  Below, only one is in the pictured…top left.  My paddle holders came from the Home Depot, I think they are some sort of towel hook or something.  I just screwed them straight into my yak.  As with every modification you make, you must keep in mind how it will affect your other modifications.  If your going to add outriggers as I have,  make sure the paddle is held forward enough not to be impeded by the outriggers.  My paddle is held on the left side of the yak and the forward holder doubles as my anchor tie off point.   If my paddle was held on the right it would be in the way of my tolling motor…something to think about.  If i had it to do over again i would keep paddle left and motor right.  Also pictured below is a deck board.  The deck board is most useful if you can stand, and usually you will only spend time standing if you have outriggers.  So if you’ve got riggers or are going to have riggers soon make sure you use a deck board unless the standing area is already flat.  If your yak is like mine…its sheer hell to stand in the little cupped space your ass would usually  be.  My next deck board will likely be cut longer so as to increase walkable space forward and help keep my vest and everything else out of the water.  With all of the weight in the yak water comes up the scupper holes and fills much on the area below the board.  In a perfect world I would use  some sort of 3/4 inch  plastic, but plastic sounds dirty… stick with ply wood and recut another piece when you need.  This piece has lasted over a year.  Remember to think ahead and think logistically.  On second thought I might keep the board the same length as its already hard to fit everything in the trunk of my suv.

kayak fishing rig fly fishing

If you want to fish from a kayak I would highly highly  recomend you make some adjustable outriggers, its a little bit of work and money but you will be paid back in full.

kayak fishing outriggers fly fishing

What I’ve got here is a 1 1/2 pvc frame shifted right for the trolling motor, connected to 4″ styrene? drain pipe.  The pvc is held to the yak with electrical conduit hold downs and the same for the the 4″ pipe to the pvc.  t joints next to the yak were for storing the riggers up for going through tight places, I rarely use that method anymore because it’s a dangerous pain in the ass when your on the water to do that, especialy with a motor and battery on board.  the riggers are either screwed or glued everywhere accept at the t joints.  Simply remove either side at the T and youre ready to rack up the yak and transport the riggers in the back of your ride.  Every situation is different, when doing your riggers you need to keep in mind that when your on the water you will sit lower in the water and your riggers should be adjustable up and down to get the proper support.  adding a battery in the rear will change that and you want to be able to adjust.  I simply allow the  electrical conduit hold downs to rotate around the 1 1/2 ” pvc and then drill an extra hole through the conduit hold down and add a screw.

 

 

Extra scew added for height adjustments

 

exta screw added to keep main assembly oriented properly

Notice the orange bungy cord here.  This is essential or the riggers will easily work out of their couplers…it must be tight.  The tighter the better.  What I’ve done is pre drilled for a large eye bolt to got through the left outrigger arm.  Then attached a my bungee and streched to maximun and positioned a lag bolt just beyond that stretch point.  Because its a bolt head not an eye i can get the bungee tighter than if it was an eye.  If thats confusing…take my word for it.

 

 

 

 

 

Below is the how i mount the motor… a minnkota endura.  Take special note here! The power cord for the motor is short, and I burned up my switch using an extension chord patch trying to place the battery forward.

I had been placing the battery box right where you see the soda cans below.  It makes a nice seat right there but the yak has all the weight in one place and wants to spin like a top.  I have managed this for a long time but trust me…you want to put the battery forward.  I used a $10 set of jumper cables from wall-mart as my new chord and haven’t had any issues, I actually think I’m getting more power despite the added length, I’m maxed out on cable size as it was a real job just getting the chord into the main housing for the connections and was barely able to get the copper into the  female crimp connectors. It can be done!  after twisting the wire and forcing it in, only the central core was inside the crimp…do the best you can.  If you burn your switch up its $40 replacement.  Try to monitor for any burning smell when testing and after your first day on the water using full speed take the housing apart and look for signs of melt on the switch…if no melt then you should be good to go.

I place the battery up in the front hold and leave the battery box right where you see the soda cans for a seat.  you can use a square bucket or other seat as well, whatever you want!  Be careful placing your hand on the edge of an empty box and putting your weight on it as you go to sit down…you might have a nasty accident!

Fully loaded minus the battery…must have taken it back to the car.  you’ve got room for a some soda’s a back pack to help carry your anchor and your vest and rod up front.  Moving this stuff around is a real job, Im 34 and fit and it can be a bitch, but I love what i do so its manageable.  I have a hefty nylon rope up front and always take a glove or shirt to wrap around my hand for hauling.  I usually drag the yak with everything but the battery and anchor…just too much work and mud to try and do anything else.  Believe it or not I often get compliments on my rig from the local cat fishermen i encounter.  Its stealth  as hell for sure.  Best wishes and good luck.

Spring Fly Fishing

Drum and White bass moving in around Stl. March 22, 2011

A nice freshwater drum i caught on a crayfish fly while fly fishing

It was shaping up to be a lousy day.  The wind was strong, I was 10 min from the car when i noticed i’d forgotten to put on my “mud” shoes, and it was starting to rain.  Oh yeah, the fish weren’t biting either.  I had a bite about two weeks ago but no bites since.  I decided to head back to the car, at least i would get out of the rain and perhaps call it a day.  Once I got back to the car something told me to put my “mud” shoes on a keep fishing, and that’s what I did.  I tied on a small bait-fish with rabbit wing…fleshy little guy, and tossed him up current, letting him ride down towards me while still stripping just a little.  Bam! got a little white bass about 5 inches long, first fish to hand 2011!  They’re in the creek now!  no more bites so i moved up stream and tried a  stainless weedless crayfish fly, the same fly that seems to catche every fish in my part of the world.

Weedless Crayfish fly for fly fishing to carp catfish bass drum trout bluegillA good fly!

I fished the fly up and down stream, the current in that part is really slow.  After sinking close to the bottom i would start a very very slow retrieve.  Just dragging the line over my finger ever so slowly.  waiting to see or feel the fly touch bottom or get hit by a fish.  In either case it is imperative to check the “snag” by continuing to add pressure to the line…if its a stone on bottom the fly will usually release quickly or just tap the rock.  if its a fish…as you add pressure to the line nothing “releases” ..add more pressure, set the hook.  you’ve either snagged bottom or you’ve got a fish.   I use this method because sometimes immediately setting the hook when the fly taps something will defeat the weed-guard and you will loose a lot of flies to the bottom, also, that’s where you are trying to fish!   I Get a lot of drum and other fish by dragging/tapping bottom, often with a crayfish, it seems that either the sound of the fly on the bottom, or the mud stirred up greatly add to the number of bites i get, and thats what proceeded to happen over the next couple of hours.  Lots of drum and one more white bass.  I love fishing

a creek in st. louis, missouri that represents a fly fishing opportunityHome waters

Common Carp Fishing 101

a carp i caught on a crayfish fly while fly fishing in a north st. louis creekIts Spring and things are starting to heat up.  Soon the Carp will be in the shallows looking for food and mates.  If your looking for a rewarding challenge, set out to first find and then catch these magnificent fish.  The Carp is considered one of freshwater fly fishing’s greatest challenges.  Not only are the fish large and powerful, but also intelligent and spooky.  If you want to catch these Golden Beauties you’re going to have to find them first.

With all this in mind, use your knowledge of the area first.  Have you ever seen carp anywhere close to home?  Do some web searches and see if you can gather any information that way.  Often, urban anglers will have state managed waters close to home.  Check out your local Department of Conservation or Fish and Wildlife web site.  You should be able to find information about your local lakes and rivers there.   Another good thing to do is join an online fishing forum relating to your geographic location or specific interests.  This is a good way to find hard to get information.  I use ozarkanglers.com and warmfly.com.  Your local fly and or bait shop is another possibility for getting some good information.   Don’t be afraid of chatting in bait fishing forums as well, they can also give valuable information on where to find the fish.   Finally, get on google maps and start looking for bodies of water near you.  I like to find places to fish other people don’t know about or aren’t interested in.   In St. louis, MO we have 3 rivers close to home, the Missouri, Mississippi, and Meramec rivers.  For the most part these rivers aren’t suited to kayaking or wading, so I look for any side lakes, large creeks, or small rivers feeding into them that i can access.  Google is a great tool for finding unknown waters and parking close to home. Do some exploring, its half the fun.

Once you’ve figured out were you think you might find some carp its time to get your gear together.  A pair of polarized glasses are going to be as important as your rod.  If you want to catch carp you gotta see carp!   Your ability to spot the fish before it spots or senses you is critical.  If you forget your glasses…u might want to turn around and get them because carp fishing without them is pointless.  Once you’ve got those, grab your rod…whatever you’ve got.   Ilike a 7 or 8 wt for horsing big fish in tight places, but i could use my 3 wt as well if needed.   Go with what you got.  Tie on some heavy tippet. I like 20lb flourocarbon with my 8wt.   Tie on a small weighted crayfish, preferably weedless size 4, 6, or 8.  A small clouser style lead eye nymph or leech in green, brown, or black will also work (I like brown crayfish size 4-8 best) .  Make sure to use 15-20lb test tippet.  This can vary up or down depending on your rod/leader and other conditions but where i fish 20lb flourocarbon is the way to go.  Try and use a loop knot to attach your fly, it will give a better action to the fly in the water.   A perfection loop seems to work best with flourocarbon.

Now you’ve got the gear set up and at least 4-5 good weedless flies in your pack, its time to hit the water.  Your looking for feeding fish.  Carp can be easily spotted in shallow water  close to the edges of the body of water your fishing, or shallow mudflats in back bays.  You are looking for disturbances to the surface of the water which give the fish’s location away, often at long distances.  You may see the carps tail out of the water with his nose down in the mud, this is known as a tailing carp.  Many times you can locate a school of carp by seeing mud coming off the bottom as they feed.  You may also see a carp so shallow that his head or back breaks the surface.  Other times you may walk up on a fish and then see it there in front of you, in this case, the fish probably already knows somethings up and your lucky he’s still there, it won’t take much to send him off now.  Once you’ve spotted the fish you need to get as close but not too close.  Generally you want to get no closer than you need to in order to get a cast within 1 or 2ft of its head.  You will have to work all that out yourself with practice.  Sometimes the fish won’t even let you get within casting range, it all depends or your circumstances.  Assuming you’ve made a good cast, quickly bring up any slack while you watch the carp react.  If the fly was 1.5 ft from it head he’s probably already got it in his mouth.  strip 2 small 2 inch strips(like a crayfish would scurry). If all went as planned you set the hook on your first strip or second little stip of the fly.  if not pause and strip strip again. continue that 3 or four times if you think the fish is still following.  If you can still see the fish you can cast again.  These fish catch on pretty quick. The idea is for them to hear the fly land close but not so close its scary, and if you can place the fly only where the fish can hear but not see the fly land…that’s good.  if you cast the fly where he can see it land…that’s a little scary for him, try and place it a little further ahead of the fish in that case.  You will learn to use the force in time young jedi.  Remember to keep an eye on the fish.  Learn to read its body language and to feel for the fish by using slow small strips.   Many times its a feel thing, you gotta feel for the fish cus you can’t always see whats going on.  Other times, if your lucky, you may have a crystal clear view of the fish approaching your fly on the bottom and doing a headstand on it.  When he does that, the fly is in his mouth, tighten up.  You’ve got a carp!

Fuji SiC guides vs Stainless

About 3 years ago I started to fish a creek that lies in the Missouri river flood plain.  After several months of fishing i began to notice guide wear similar to what you can see below.  By the end of the year several of the guides were 85-90% worn through.  I told the guy at the fly shop that sage was going to repair of replace the rod.  He thought maybe i should go out in the lot and step on it first just in case.  Just as i was told by Sage over the phone, they did replace the rod for the 50$ charge. Not a bad deal!  Thank God for warranties right?  Well, when the rod came back all new I got a new line and tried to keep it clean, but there’s no keeping line clean the way i fish…all up in the mud and such.  Within 2 months my guides were wearing through again!!!!   Unbelievable!  That’s when i wised up and figured out what i needed to do.  Build a rod with Fuji SiC guides.  Long story short…I love the new guides. Sand or mud on the line just acts as lubrication.  Now, instead of replacing a rod and a line, I can just replace the line.  Fuji guides are so nice.  When i fish my other rods, i find myself wishing they were SiC.  Even if you dont fish in the mud…you will be amazed at how much smother these guides are.  Id estimate at least 20-30% reduction in friction, nothing to scoff at.   I’ve been fishing the rod hard for over a year and the guides are still in perfect condition.

This is how my new SAGE RPL Xi guides looked 2 months later.

Fly rod damage from muddy conditions good reason to get fuji SiC rod guides

Fly rod damage from muddy conditions good reason to get fuji SiC rod guides

Below a Fuji SiC guide

Fly rod damage from muddy conditions good reason to get fuji SiC rod guidesBeautiful!

Working Working Working…..

Carp. ..Carp flies… get some….coming soon