So I've been scouring Craigslist and the Sunday classifieds for a river sled. I was in the market for a very used, very cheap, fixer-upper type of water craft. Well, I found it.
Boom- A 1979 Shawnee. 15 feet 11 inches of pure trout fishing excellence. Sure the paint is peeling and the fiberglass is showing through in spots... and of course the prop on the 1988 Yamaha looks like it took anti-aircraft fire... but hey- it floats (I think).
I've got plans for this old girl. So far everything is in working order- more or less. The trailer pulls, bearing look ok, the motor fires up and shift gears and the hull appears to be in decent shape.
Plans include filling in the gouges and nicks, repainting everything including the trailer, new prop, and a trolling motor or oars (can't decide). I also want to plug up the drain holes in the live well so I can use it for dry storage- I rarely keep fish anyway. By the way I have no idea what I am doing- this is my first boat and I am an idiot.
I am fairly sure the motor and probably the boat were rentals at some point. None of the numbers on the motor match and it has a "6" on the bottom and a "3" on the cowl. The motor is a 9.9 Yamaha with a 15 carb (or so the guy said). The skeg is almost ground completely smooth- which may be a problem. I changed out the lower unit oil and it looked ok as far as I know. Overall I am pretty pumped. Updates to be issued as events warrant.
I present to you Wiley B. Barkington- the best and worst fishing companion a man could ask for. He does hilarious things- but also refuses to stop trying to retrieve my indicator. He also likes to spot and chase fish. He pretty much reduces your chance to catch a fish by about 50%. He also likes to roll in the dirt right before you try to get him back in the truck. He may be a terrible fishing dog- but dang it, he sure is fun.
I have been a huge fan of C&F fly boxes for years. They were the best fly box on the market in my opinion and I have about 6 of them. C&F boxes are also very pricey and mine were beginning to wear out. As I looked for a few new boxes, I couldn't help but notice the new Umpqua offerings. I picked up a large box and a midge box and made the switch with my general tailwater box and my carp flies. Bottom line: I am going to be buying more UPG boxes.
On the left is the Umpqua large box that I use for my carp flies, middle is my old C&F tailwater box and the right is my new tailwater box- the UPG Midge. As you can see, the UPG Midge box is much smaller than the C&F box. It holds fewer flies but is a much more compact package. Honestly, I have always carried around too many flies and it just makes choosing one to fish with that much harder. I have been trying to pare down my fly boxes and this Midge box is perfect for that. The old C&F held about 940 flies and I had it filled up. There is no way a guy needs or has use for 940 flies. These are mostly midges, caddis, scuds and junk flies.
Here is the old C&F box before I gutted it. I had recently moved some dries into this box because I used to have a dedicated dry-fly box, which is not necessary in my neck of the woods. So I was carrying this box and a small streamer box whenever I hit the local tailwaters.
Here is the Midge next to the large C&F. Quite a bit smaller and slimmer. I immediately liked two things about the UPG box: 1. The clear lid lets you see the fly you want before you even open the box. 2. The flush clasps are easier to open than the C&F and don't catch on pockets.
I love the layout of the slits in the foam on the UPG. The foam seems similar to what C&F uses and holds flies very well. I did the midge, caddis, scuds and junk flies first. I guarantee this is a generous supply of flies for a day or five at a tailwater (unless you lose flies as fast as some of my buddies). I still carry a small streamer box.
The third obvious feature of the Midge box is the pair of magnetic trays for holding tiny midges. I was skeptical of these at first but this is a very handy feature. I put a good quantity of midges in there and shook the crap out of the box. Not one midge fell out (which is good because I would never have found them in the carpet). This is a better system for tiny midges because they are annoying to get in and out of foam slits and often won't even stay in the slit.
I added a good quantity of summer/spring dry flies to the large slit foam on this side. I carry all my large dry-flies in a boat box becasue I only use them when fishing out of a boat. The UPG Midge is a perfect tailwater box for the water I fish. If you carry very many large dries there are other UPG boxes that would work better.
This is my carp box. This is a large UPG box and it holds way more carp flies than I will ever need. It would also make a great box for smaller streamers, small bass flies or large nymphs. This box would probably be a great general box for you Western trout guys with your awesome dry fly fishing. Did I mention these boxes are seriously water resistant? My old C&F boxes used to be water tight- but the seals have worn and now they are as leaky as an old pair of Hodgemans. My new UPG boxes are definitely water tight and they have a "Zerust" patch that is supposed to deter rust. I have not tested this feature but it sounds legit.
Basically, these are top-of the line boxes that come in a plethora of useful options and layouts. I looked on Umpqua's site and they seem to have updated the UPG boxes with all sorts of well thought out designs. I would not hesitate to recommend the UPG line of flyboxes to anyone for any sort of fly fishing. Sorry C&F...
Boom- Spring has sprung. The bass are restless (and tiny) in my local golf course pond. I just acquired a brand new 8 weight that I think I will review shortly- and I had to break it in. These little dudes didn't put too much bend in my 8, but heck- it's the blow up that I love with bass anyway and these little guys sometimes hit harder than a large bass.
Look at the gut on that warmouth- pretty sure he ain't missing any meals.
This one is about as big as they get in this particular pond. You have got to love when you see that v-wake storming your popper right before the water explodes. They really liked this fire-tiger popper. They also seemed to like the popper drug slowly instead of aggressively popped. Guess its time to start tying up some new poppers and clousers. I love Spring.
Had a "business trip" planned to Mountain home yesterday so I threw a few rods in the truck just in case. Turned out the water was set to be down at around 10 am. So after my business thing, I prepared for some fishing by eating this:
At around 10, I pulled up to the water just beginning to fall out. There was not much fishing to be done until the water dropped most of the way.
The fishing was pretty slow at first. I picked up a fish or two on soft hackles, midges and scuds while the water dropped. Once the water was all the way down the caddis came out in a big way. I found a little pod of rainbows and had a blast tossing EHCs to hungry little mouths. Probably landed 7 chunky bows on dries. My fun was cut short when the water began to rise after only about 2 hours of fishing. Oh well.
Long story short- caddis are starting to pop and there are hungry fish to be caught. The White was running 3-4 generators the whole time and I heard fishing was slow.
I've been a fan of Rising Tools for the last few years. I initially ordered the Crocodile pliers after seeing them in a catalog. I was intrigued with their design and, after buying a pair out in Colorado, I was very impressed with their quality. Since then, I have amassed a small arsenal of Rising Tools. I have collected over the years many sets of hemos, clamps, nippers, scissors, debarbing pliers, needlenose pliers etc... etc. After using Rising's tools all my other gadgets have pretty much been retired to my desk drawer or have been given away. Above, you can see my collection. From left to right I have the Big Needles, Crocodile, Bobs Tactical (straight), Bob's Tactical (curved), another Bob's in red and a Diamond File.
Let me go ahead and get the Crocodile pliers and the Diamond File out of the way. The Crocodile pliers are a robust and novel design. The idea is to clamp the void in the nose around your line and slide it down to the fly in order to dislodge a barbless hook from the jaws of a fish (needs to be barbless). This works the same way as a multitude of other tools but is a much more durable and versatile product. I mainly use these during the white bass run in the spring. They make it super easy to release a fish quickly without taking it out of the water- which gels with Rising's mantra- "Keep Fish in H2O." I am a big fan of this line of thinking and I always strive to inflict the least amount of stress to the fish I catch as possible. I want the fish to be happy because they make me happy.
I do not use the Crocodiles for trout fishing very often because the smooth area of the jaws is too fat to debarb the small flies I usually use. If you fish out West and always throw huge dries and streamers- this wouldn't be a problem for you- I'm talking about size 18s down to 26s. The Crocodiles also have a cutter which works very well.
The Diamond File is a great hook file and works just as you would expect. It has two grooves on one side and on on the other. It has a nice rubber grip and works beautifully. I even used it to sharpen a pocket knife.
This is what is always attached to the strap of my sling pack. You can see the Rising Nippers attached to my drying patch. The nippers are very solid, not much to say other than they have a rubber grip, eye clearing needle and are very sharp. By the way, I love that my Bob's Tacticals clamp well enough to leave on my bag like that. Many pairs of clamps would fall off.
The Bob's Tactical Scissors are easily my favorite fishing tool- I prefer the straight jaws but that is just preference. The inside of the tip is smooth for debarbing and holding flies. This is key- serrated jaws are useless for smashing barbs. The meaty part of the jaws are serrated- which is useful for gripping large hooks. I use these pliers for both trout and bass so it is nice that they are stout enough to handle larger flies. The Tacticals also have scissor blades just below the jaws. If you haven't already used a clamp/scissor combo you are missing out. I am not sure why I even have nippers on my pack because this one tool eliminated the need for nippers. I can legitimately rig up a fly rod faster because of the Bob's Tactical Scissors. You do not need to switch between a clamp to mash a barb to a nipper to cut off the tag and then back to clamps to set split shot. These Tacticals can do it all. My one gripe is that the thumb hole is too small. As you can see in the picture I hold them backwards for this reason- really not a big deal and I could probably fix this by removing the rubber from the thumb hole.
This picture is just to show you the meatiness of the Bob's Tactical Scissors as compared to ordinary fishing clamps. One great and often overlooked plus for the Bob's Tacticals is that the tips meet before they lock. Some clamps have to be locked in order for the jaws to meet, which is mildly annoying.
I am a big fan of using my clamps to hold a small fly while I tie it on. I just use the clamp like a handle and I spin them to make a clinch knot- these clamps work very well for this.
Moving on. I just got the Big Needles from Rising. These are a very improved version of your standard needle nose pliers. I honestly have not really gotten to use these yet but I can already tell you they are sweet. These bad boys are a whopping 8 inches long and very slim- yet stout. They are spring loaded- which makes them way easier to use with one hand and they have a lock on the bottom. The locking feature is great because you can clamp them on your pack or bag just like smaller clamps or clamp them while working on something- though you do have to use two hands to make them lock.
I think the main application for these, at least for me, will be bass fishing or fishing streamers and large flies for trout. There are also cutters and a cutout for setting weights. The cutters work very well though I could see them wearing down eventually. These pliers look to be machined steel and the quality is very good. One thing I don't like about these pliers is that they are all black. I have had terrible luck with dropping fishing tools and it never helps you locate them on the river bed when they are all black. It would be nice to have an option with a bright colored handle- though you could easily attach a brightly colored lanyard.
Rising makes a ton of other useful and well thought out fishing tools designed to make you fishing trip better and to "Keep Fish in H2O"- check them out here: http://www.risingfish.net.
FYI- I purchased all of these tools with my own money except the nippers, the curved jaw Bob's and the red straight jawed Bob's which were graciously sent to me by Rising for this review. I also bought a Rising "Flask Pack" for my father that he loves and I may review it at a later date.