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Showing posts from 2012

Light Blogging Alert–Old Man Winter’s teeth closing down

Sorry for the light blogging but the winter weather is here and the fly rods are away.  This year is probably the earliest that I packed up the rods and called it for the season.  This was due to Hurricane Sandy, the cold weather and work.  Sandy was a strange storm up here in Northeast Pennsylvania.  Usually we get some wind and tons of rain from these systems.  This one was the opposite.  We had some rain but the force of the wind was incredible.  Having lived through Hurricane Gloria in 1985 I remember one thing about that storm over all others, the sound of the wind.  The night of Sandy I heard that sound again.  People asked me how fast I thought the wind was blowing in the storm and when I told them 85 mph they asked how I knew.  My response is when you are 10 years old and you experience the scariest thing in your life to that point, you remember that sound.
In preparation of the storm I packed up all the rods from the shed and brought them in.  I am guilty of being lazy or ef…

A Fiberglass Fly Rod is Born

Sorry all for the lag time in between posts as I have been busy with work and have spent any spare time working on this build.  I wanted to do a pictorial of the build from start to finish on my Jann’s Netcraft Fiberglass blank build. Glass is certainly not dead.  It may have been on life support before Cameron Mortenson started up The Fiberglass Manifesto but I credit him with breathing new life into the realm of fiberglass fly rods and exposing me to them.  This is a Jann’s Netcraft 8’ 5/6 two piece blank which from my searching the most inexpensive blank for the new fly rod builder as they sell for $18.29 each plus shipping.  For a first rod build you really can’t go wrong.Your choices of reel seats are plentiful but you have to be mindful of the butt diameter of these rods, as fiberglass rods have a larger diameter then comparable graphite so some wood insert style reel seats will be too small.  I decided to go with a reel seat designed for salt water fly rods.With the cork grip y…

12 years in the making.

12 years ago I moved from the salt marshes on the south shore of Long Island to the top of a mountain in Pennsylvania.  I was driving to the new house with my brother when I spotted this lake.  I was excited to see what appeared to be a perfect lake, just around the corner from my new home.  My excitement was crushed when my brother informed me that the lake was private and that I wouldn’t be able to fish it.And so I drove past this lake every day on my way to work always giving it a little glance, the glance all fisherman do when they see promising water, there it was just out of my reach.  Fast forward 12 years… My Jeep is parked on the beach and I am unloading my kayak.  See I found a way around the “Private” water issue.  Get a job on the lake!  Believe it or not I have worked there nearly 5 years and haven’t fished the lake.  Today all that changed.  I had to do this right so I was going to be a kayak trip as there is no place to cast a fly from shore, and it had to be fiberglass…

Rod wrapping stand warning

When I built my rod wrapping stand I used what I had laying around.  To pad the V blocks I used the non scratching stick on pads for furniture.  Warning do not do as I did.  Get the adhesive Velcro that they sell in hardware stores by the foot and use the soft side.  This will cushion your rod and allow you to use the other side of the Velcro to hold the rod from falling out.  The pads I used shed fibers everywhere.  This really becomes and issue when you are putting the finish on the thread wraps.  Live and learn.

Budget tools $5 Cork Reamers

My intention, of this rod build is to build something I just can’t find out in the fly rod market, and to do it as economically as possible. 
One of the tools that is a necessity is a set of cork reamers.  A search of the internet will turn up a beautiful set of “Dream Reamers” for around $50.  Your other choices are a rat tail file or make your own reamers.  I decided to go the make my own route.
First part of this is find a broken fishing rod, good places to find them if you don’t have one hanging around is a garbage can by a fishing spot, that is where I got mine.  I found half a spinning rod sticking out of the trash and did the following. 
1.  Strip off all the guides, wraps, reel seat and cork.
2.  Cut to a usable length.
Being that you will need a reamer to make a much larger hole with Fiberglass rod blanks than with graphite blanks I found the butt section of the Medium weight spinning rod to be about right.  Remember a 5/6 weight glass blank will have a butt diameter of ro…

Budget rod building tools

I have wanted to build my own fiberglass fly rod since shortly after I was infected with the fiberglass fly rod bug by Cameron over at The Fiberglass Manifesto.  It just so happened when I had the idea to find a budget blank Janns netcraft did not have them in stock. So here I was with time and energy.  Knowing the build was going to happen I started doing some research on what I needed to work on a rod blank.  I found everything from high dollar wrapping machines, to people using a cardboard box as a rest, and running the wrapping thread through a book.  Then the idea hit me… almost literally. I was at work and contractors were throwing scraps of wood out of the third floor window into the dumpster and they happened to miss both the dumpster and myself.  I ended up with a bunch of plywood pieces, and some pine board.So I built a wrapping stand, or my best approximation of the ones I was seeing sold online.  The only parts I had to buy for this project were the brass eyelets, a 1/4” x…

Fish list–Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)

This was an absolute first for me on two counts.  First this was the first time I had fished this lake and second this is the first Green Sunfish I have caught in my life. That feeling of discovery when you catch a new species of fish on new water is amazing.As those following know, I usually shoot all my own photos one handed but I forgot my camera.  Fortunately my wife was along in her kayak and took this shot from quite a distance away.  As you can see her photography skills are much better than mine.

Blame it on The Fiberglass Manifesto

That is a fiberglass fly rod blank sitting on my work bench.  It is the model from Janns Netcraft which is 8 ft. and rated as a 5/6 weight.  Oh and this is all Cameron's fault over at The Fiberglass Manifesto.  Until I ran across his site I never even thought about fiberglass fly rods.  I was relatively new to the sport and had only handled graphite fly rods.  So I keep reading the blog and seeing all the different rods some brand new some vintage.  I figure well why don’t I just pick up one of these Eagle Claw featherlight rods at Wal-Mart for $20 and if I don’t like it well it’s $20, lesson learned.  Problem is I liked it, it had a slower softer action and was so easy to cast.  Now I find myself building my first rod and it is going to be learning experience.  I will just take my time and use all the information and resources over at the rod building forum at

Fish list–Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)

Probably the first freshwater fish that most of us caught was the Pumpkinseed. The most colorful member of the Sunfish family having tropical hues and wouldn’t look out of place on a coral reef.  Gibbosus is from Latin for “Formed like the moon” or “Hunchbacked” either way it accurately describes the nearly round shape of these beautiful fish.

Rod – Eagle Claw featherlight 5/6 wt           Fly – Brown Gartside Gurgler
If you look at the flap on its gill cover you can see small black spots, I noticed them on the fins and about the mouth also.  I had never seen these spots and they concerned me so off to the internet for an answer.  This is what I found from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Black spots
Black spot disease is commonly observed in rock bass and other sunfish, bass, pike, perch, minnows, and other fish species. It can be identified by the presence of small black spots, usually about the size of a pin head, in the skin, the fins, the musculature, and the mouth of t…

Fish List–Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)

One of my favorite fish on a fly rod.  I find there is a great dichotomy when it comes to the Largemouth Bass.  One the one side it is know as the a super aggressive predator that will eat everything from fish, frogs, birds and mice.  Check out some soft plastic Bass lures that are around a foot long.  This fish will eat.  On the other side I have found that Largemouth Bass in bodies of water that are clear and don’t contain abundant cover can be the spookiest, selective fish I have ever seen.  You have to make a perfect cast and do everything right and these fish will rise up and suck down your fly like they have been taking lessons from selective trout. Don’t think that Stimulators are only for Trout, I find that they are excellent for fussy Largemouths.Match a Stimulator some 5X tippet and a 4wt rod and even the small ones are a blast.

Fish List–Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

The fish that started my fly fishing journey the Rainbow Trout.  While the Rainbow Trout rates third on my list of common Trout  species with the Brown Trout taking top billing and the Brook Trout coming in second (Yes technically it’s a Char but it is commonly referred to in the Trout category).I find myself a bit biased against the Rainbow Trout and this has a lot to do with the fact that they are stocked fish in my area.  I do dream of fishing Alaska for their giant native Rainbows, but until then these will have to do.

Fish List–Chain Pickerel (Esox niger)

Here is a fish that will aggressively take flies, gives a good fight and can be found from Canada to Florida, west to Texas and the Great Lakes.  While the Chain Pickerel may be decried as a trash fish or eater of game fish, only fit to be thrown up on the shore to die by some, this is a fish I respect and love to fish for.  The Chain Pickerel holds the job of fisheries manager in the waters it inhabits.  As proven by a misguided idea at my local lake that Pickerel are bad and they needed to be eliminated from the waterway because they were eating all the trout.  To this end the fisherman there proceeded to kill every Pickerel they caught.  The end result was that the Pickerel wasn’t there to manage the Yellow Perch population which exploded and ate all the aquatic insects and forage for the Trout.  End result was that all the beautiful 14”-17” trout they were stocking were starving to death in short order.  Even this small Chain Pickerel pictured above was a fun fight and I choose th…

Fish List–Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)

While not what on would consider a fly fishing target species I have discovered that they will readily take a fly.  With the ability to grow to over a foot long they can be interesting on a light 4wt.The great part about seeing these Shiners is that this is the same water that Brown Trout are in and have taken to eating these in quantity.  When the weather turns cold and the hatches are done for the year this is when you tie on a big meat fly imitation of the Golden Shiner and go to work.

Gills on Glass

What could be better than putting a bend in a fly rod than to have it be a fiberglass rod that really lets them show off?  Having the fish be big Bluegills.  I think every fly fisher should catch a big Bluegill on a fly rod, you set the hook and fell that thump, thump, thump.  Then you realize, I can’t move this fish all I can do is hold on and wait.  Yes the lowly Bluegill, a fish we catch as a little kid and then move on to more serious species is schooling you.  Force the fight and that tippet will break sending your fly line back into your face as an insult.  These big Gills are finesse fish, you have to fight them like a chess match waiting for them to make a mistake then take advantage of it.  That is if you can get one to eat.  Big Bluegills didn’t get that way by being stupid, these are the smartest, toughest fish of their species and they can be super spooky at the same time they are full speed hunting.  Think clear water Carp to get an idea.This is where I like to use a Hump…

Missed opportunities or If the answer had teeth it would have bit you already

I am very fortunate that my "real job" is right on a lake.  While other people toil away in there windowless offices and cubicles I have the panoramic view of a lake.  Instead of the sound of people pecking away at keyboards I have the songs of Bluebirds and the peeping sound Ospreys as they circle over head.

Yesterday I was talking to a person that lives right on the lake who I know fly fishes and while we were talking his rod was standing in the corner right next to us.  I asked him how the fishing had been, knowing he fishes several of the streams around the area.  He replied that the fishing was good but he had to practice the catching, aka fighting the fish and landing it.  We got to talking about the nearly biblical Midge hatch we had on the lake and how the fish had been rising and coming all the way out of the water to feast on them.  Keep it in mind that this lake is what I would consider a warm water fishery, years ago they stocked trout as a put and take fishery b…

The Fish List

So I have decided that starting this year I am on a quest to catch all the species of fish that live in my surrounding area on a fly and photograph them. To some this may not sound so difficult and for some of the species it isn't. Bluegills, Yellow perch, Largemouth Bass, Pickerels, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and Brook Trout are all walking distance from my home. My challenge is to catch the other species like Bowfin and Fresh Water Drum. Finding Bowfin in my area has been a challenge as I only found one lake listed as having them and it is off the beaten path. I have a Jeep and a kayak so I am ready for this.

Budget Reels - New offering from Cabelas

Last post I was looking at budget fiberglass rods, now I want to cover some budget reels and  a new offering from Cabelas.  I already own two and a half Cabelas brand fly reels currently, and I will go over the half model issue right now.  I bought two of the Prestige One reels when Cabelas had a midnight cost per reel $14.99.  Due to my own testing of gravity I managed to drop one of the reels spools on my kitchen floor which dented and broke the outside edge of the spool, so I was left with one good reel and another reel minus the spool.  I tried to find a spare spool and to my dismay they were over $20.  The only operational issue I had with these reels was that the drag was horrible, either no drag or full stop and getting it wet made it worse.  The fix to this is to add a little white lithium grease to the drag disk and shoe (it looks like disc brakes on a car) after this little tweak the reels are awesome with smooth as silk drags.

The second model of Cabelas reel I purchased wi…

Affordable Glass Rod Blanks

While I dream of having Shane over at Graywolf Rods build me a one of his incredible rods, I like many others just can't spend that amount of money on a new rod right now. So the budget glass rods going in descending price order are the Cabelas CGR at $99 or the Eagle Claw Featherweight rods at $20.  The other option is to buy a fiberglass fly rod blank and build your own rod.  Quick search on the Internet will yield some interesting results (here is where I wish I could insert the sounds of crickets in a blog post) there is only one budget fiberglass fly rod blank available... Well sort of.  Janns Netcraft lists a 5/6 weight fiberglass fly rod blank for $18.29 and it's listed as currently not available.  Well here is the good news they should be available in June.  I chatted with one of the customer service reps this morning (Thanks Scott) and he was able to give me that release date for the blanks.  They have switched to another manufacturer to make the blanks and that is t…