Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gear 101: #1 Rod, Reel and Line

GEAR 101

Nobody is born a professional. At one time or another we all stood as ignorant ‘fishermen and fisherwomen to be’ staring at gear that meant nothing to us, oblivious of what anything was, much less how it all fit together. For some of us this moment was when we were too young to remember, for others this moment is now. This is the first of 6 blogs in a series we are calling “Gear 101” and it is aimed at those of you among us who are at this precise point, the very beginning.

#1 Rod, Reel and Line

These are the three most important components in the sport of fly-fishing and they are designed to work in conjunction with one another to perform one task: get the fly from the end of your fly rod out to the river where you want it to go. The process of getting the fly out to the water is called the cast and is often the most challenging aspect to the beginning angler, a subject we will cover in detail later in this series.

For now, let’s skim the surface of how these three basic tools go together.

 The modern fly rod is made from graphite, a mineral that is both strong and lightweight. The rod is made in a taper, thicker at the butt end where the reel is attached and slowly slimming up to a fine tip. Most fly rods are made to break down into either two or four pieces. Guides, which are small circular shaped metal pieces, are attached to the rod. The guides serve the purpose of holding the line and allow it to run smoothly along the rod as you cast. At the butt end of the rod is the reel seat, which is a metal nut that threads along the base of the rod and tightens down onto the reel to hold it into place. The last component to the rod is the cork handle, located just above the reel seat.

Fly rods are given a “weight” ranging from 000 to 14 that corresponds both to the weight of line the rod is made to handle and the type of environment that it is best used in. For example, a 000 rod should be used with a 000 line and best for small streams when you are most likely going to catch small fish, a 14 rod is intended to be used in saltwater, fishing for beasts like Marlin. In addition to various weights rods also come in varying lengths. In the language of fly rods you will often see the specifics of each rod printed in a series of numbers on the butt end piece of the rod. These numbers are deciphered as such: weight, feet, inches – pieces. For example, a rod that has these numbers: 490-4 is a 4 weight, 9 foot, 0 inches, 4 piece. 

The modern fly reel is made up of two parts, the spool, which holds the line and clips into the frame, which houses the drag system and allows you to turn the handle to take in line. The drag system is a mechanism built in to most reels that regulates the rate at which the line is pulled off the reel, think resistance. The purpose of this drag system is to allow you to choose the appropriate level of resistance depending on the size fish you are hooked into. A larger fish needs more drag (resistance) as it will more likely put up a bigger fight. The more the fish has to work the quicker it will tire out and allow you to bring it to the net.

Most reels are made of either composite plastics, which are cheaper and less durable, or aluminum, which are lighter, extremely durable and more expensive. With the more expensive reels you often get more refined drag systems, which allow you to fine-tune your drag while actively fighting fish.

Fly line is the driving force of the entire operation. We often refer to it as the “engine” of the rod, as it is the weight of the line itself that bends the rod during the cast. In spin fishing the entire operation hinges on a weighted lure. This weight is used to pull line out as you cast, thus achieving distance. In fly-fishing we are casting the line not the fly. As you back-cast the rod bends with the weight of the line and on the forward cast the rod springs back and the line shoots through the guides, running freely out to the water.

Fly lines are made up of two parts, the core and the coating. The core is the strength of the line, engineered to provide the backbone and is most often made from nylon, which is braided in order to increase strength and durability. The coating is plastic and protects the core by being pliable and flexible throughout the many conditions you find on the water. The coating is also the place where line engineers have room to experiment. Through different techniques companies have discovered ways to taper, weight and aerate these coatings to provide a line precisely tuned for any fishing technique and situation.

There you have it, a surface explanation of the most basic tools of the trade. The depth to which you can continue to explore and learn is relatively endless as companies are constantly refining manufacturing techniques and materials. However, all you need is a rod, reel and line, oh yeah, and the fourth most important element is time, lots and lots of time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How to Ease the Winter Fishing Blues

When the snow starts to pile up and the outdoor temperature gauge produces numbers in the single digits that is the signal for many of us that the fishing season has come to an end. While there are a die-hard few who don’t mind frozen fingers and icy guides, the majority of us must now face the winter fishing blues. Here are a few suggestions on how to battle those blues when tight lines are found only in our dreams.

1.     Tie Flies
The winter is the perfect time of year to re-fill half empty fly boxes. We recommend you start by building a fire, pouring a whisky and putting on your favorite record. If you need inspiration the internet is an unparalleled resource for learning new patterns. We also have a library of tying books at the shop that you can come in and browse. If you have never tied a fly but want to start we can help! Remember, every fly you tie is a future fish.

2.     READ!
When is a better time to catch up on fishing related reading material than when you are housebound and the snow is piling outside your door? Again, we recommend you start by building a fire, pouring a whiskey and putting on your favorite record. Books, blogs and magazines on fly fishing abound. Whether you are looking to learn a new technique or just want a story that whisks you away this is the time of year to do it. Lord knows we won’t be caught reading when the hatches are coming off the water in sheets.

3.     Watch Fishy Films
As the sport of fly fishing continues to gain popularity so has the act of making films about it. With wearable and flyable technology that allows us to go higher and deeper than ever before, the ability of the tech savvy everyday angler to capture the essence of the sport is getting scary good and the internet is full of killer videos ranging from small clips to full length movies. Of course there are the classics, who doesn’t love A River Runs Through It, but there are a plethora of other films out there to be discovered, both story driven and instruction based. Again start by building a fire and pouring that whisky, leave the record player off for this one…

  Here are some websites that will help get you going:

              Charlie's Fly Box 



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Patagonia Women's Spring River Wader Review by Emily Roley

Review: Patagonia Spring River Waders for Women
By Emily Roley

I started fly fishing back in the year 1992 when I was 13. I was a teenager with a babysitting income and purchasing gear was out of question so I gratefully took whatever second hands my father passed down to me. I remember the extra fabric in the waders folded around me like elephant skin and I had to layer thick, wool socks to try and fill the extra room in the men’s size 10 boot. But I fell in love with the sport, despite the oversized gear.
As an adult woman, with a slightly better income, I have a myriad of options for gear designed specifically for women and I recently acquired Patagonia’s Spring River waders. I must admit that I am smitten with them. The cut and seam construction follow my contour without clinging, specifically through the thighs and hips. I am an angler who enjoys scrambling over obstacles to get the perfect cast and I have found that I have enough room to stretch and crawl without constriction. The gravel guards are made from the same fabric as the waders instead of transitioning to neoprene, this gives the waders a uniform fit and feel all the way down to the boot, which partially accounts for the legroom and comfort.
These waders are crafted with an in-wader suspension system that unclips at the back, which makes a riverside bathroom break easier without having to remove pack or jacket. It takes a little practice to figure this out but it is a super use full feature. The best part of the suspension system is that you can slide the top of the wader down, transitioning these chest waders into pant waders and back again as the weather shifts. In this northern New Mexico region we often see dramatic shifts in weather and I greatly appreciate the ability to transition my gear with such ease.
The upper cut of the wader is contoured, hitting above the breastbone for full coverage. If I had to have a negative critique it would be that this high profile brings the fabric high under the armpits, which feels bulky and can be irritating. The front, fleece lined hand pocket is a lifesaver and I will never purchase another wader that does not have this feature. Lastly, the 100% waterproof pocket on the chest interior is very well designed as I can flip the pocket out and store my phone for quick, picture taking access without the worry of it getting wet when I bend down to net a fish.

In one sentence I feel entirely spoiled in these waders, not having to sacrifice fit or performance while on or off the water. I have learned a lot from age 13 to 37, one lesson being that having the perfect gear is not a necessity in this sport but it certainly is a pleasure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Get To Know Your Guide: Ron Sedall

Get To Know Your Guide: Ron Sedall

When did you learn to fly fish?

I was young, maybe 4 or 5. My father started taking me to small creeks in the Jemez Mountains.

Why did you become a guide?

The culture surrounding guides was something that I loved. A lifestyle of “play hard and fish harder”. There are amazing moments that come from such a life, moments that are hard to accurately display in all the popular fishing magazines, although the attempts are great. It was during one of these indescribable moments that I knew for certain that this is why I was on this planet. When else does one get to sit back and read the endless writings of the natural world?

Where are you from and how did you end up in Taos?

I grew up in Corrales, which is a small farming community north of Albuquerque. I was working a restaurant job while I struggled through my attempt at college. It was while working this restaurant job that I met Taylor Streit. After a lengthy conversation about Taos and guiding with Taylor I was soon living in the basement of the Taos Fly Shop paying my dues and displaying my dedication. Taos was always alluring to me, especially the Rio Grande and its density of water.

What is your most memorable experience as a guide?

My most memorable experience was my first trip. I didn’t sleep due to the stress, not knowing what the next day would bring. But I learned what has become a pattern, all nerves subside and all is well when the fish are caught.

What is your goal when you take clients on a trip?

A client’s satisfaction is everything. I want their experience to strengthen their love for the sport. I also enjoy creating a bond with my clients throughout the course of a fishing day.

What is your favorite river to guide and why?

That’s a tough question! Every river has its window of fishiness and all have something different to offer depending on when you are there. The Rio Grande is pretty amazing for wild, big fish and it is unique to our area. That fact always makes it a crowd pleaser. It’s very  “wild west” down there. It also has challenges that make every day down there on the river interesting.

What are your 5 “go to” patterns?

-Warden’s Worry
-Hare’s Ear
-Royal Simulator

What do you love about fly fishing?

I love the solitude, the challenges, the subtle changes that happen on the water, the learning process and being in touch with the natural world.

What is the one place you want to fish before you die?

One of my secret spots!

What do you enjoy doing when you are off the water?

Spending time with my amazing fiancée and our dogs. I enjoy camping, cooking, making beer and getting ready for my next day on the water.