Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen

Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen thumbnail

Odds are if you love fly fishing for warm water predators, you’ve caught a few glimpses of Pat Cohen’s (@rusuperfly) fly patterns. Pat is renowned for his deer hair work, fly tying tools, and original patterns. A New York native, Pat grew up fishing, but once he gave fly fishing a try, the rest was history. We sat down with Pat to chat about fly tying, developing fly tying products and his art-fly-tying. Check it out!

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into fly fishing.

Pat: I think it was in 2008 or so, and it was kind of a random event. I was out fishing with my dad and my brother, and my brother had this eagle claw fly-slash-spin combo rod, and I check it out and I decided I wanted to learn how to fly fish. And haphazardly put it together, walked out in the middle of the creek, started whipping the thing around frantically, and did not catch a fish. But, fell in love with the whole process. And it all started from that, really. Yeah, it was an accident.

And fly tying started in 2009, and it was really…well, that was an accident too. I was going through flies like crazy trying to learn how to catch smallmouth, and I decided that I needed to learn how to tie a couple for myself because where I’m at, there’s nothing as far as fly shops and stuff like that go. So, for me to replenish flies, it was an hour drive one way to go get flies or whatever. So I said, all right I’m going to learn how to tie a couple of these things. And at the time I was only using like bead head crystal flash wooly buggers. And so I tied tons of them, and then just accidentally stumbled upon bass bugs and fell in love with that, and it just kind of went from there.

Flylords: When did you first start tying with spun deer hair?

Pat: That was within a couple of months of tying flies in general. I kind of ran through the gamut. There was this little fly shop around here, it was a trout focused fly shop and I had gone in and I went and talked to them. I said, “Hey you know, I’m really interested in learning how to catch bass”, and they basically told me to leave, in not so many words.

So it wasn’t a good reception there, so I said, all right well that’s kind of rude. And then left and went … There’s another little shop, like I said, about an hour from here. It’s closed now unfortunately but, I’d gone in there and that’s where I started seeing all these bass bugs and all these various things. And bought a few and then started using them.

The first one was just a standard Dahlberg diver. And fell in love with the whole premise of catching bass on topwater. And I said, “Well geez there’s not a lot of selection.” I would see all the available lures and spin tackle gear, and then go back and looked at these fly selections, I said to myself, “Boy, there’s nothing here, why are all these crazy colors available in poppers and Hula Poppers and that kind of thing but, I can’t get anything like that in a fly.” So I started making them. 

The first time I tried to spin a bug, I had no idea what I was doing, or what the material was. I had some bucktails around, so I tried to spin bucktail, and I was getting angry. I went back to that shop that I bought the tail from, and I met this guy Tom. And I said, “Hey, Tom I want to learn how to make these things.”, and he’s like, “Well I don’t know how to make them but, I can tell you what material you need.” 

So I bought belly hair, went home and I was like, holy hell it flares, it does what it’s supposed to do. Yeah. And then I just kind of went bananas with it. 

Flylords: Was there an “A-ha!” moment you discovered or something that kind of accelerated the learning curve for you, where spinning deer hair is concerned?

Pat: Thread tension seemed to be the thing that was the most important, at first. It was like, “okay how do I make this hair stand up off the hook at 90 degrees,” because that’s the whole premise behind flaring deer hair. You want to get that thread in the middle, compress it down nice and tight and boom that hair stands up. So I guess, one of the first things that you try to figure out is, all right I’m putting a ton of tension on this, I’m getting it flared and then when I put a little bit extra, my thread breaks, now what. So using the right thread, and when I was told finally what I should be using, that really made a big difference. 

Flylords: And what was that thread?

Pat: GSP. At the time, I was told a million different things. I was told, hey use Kevlar, use this thread, that thread, use mono, use all these different things. And nothing really worked. I think I read an article or something. I have no idea exactly how but, I discovered GSP and started using GSP. And I was like, oh yeah this is where it’s at, this is the missing ingredient.

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about the hair packing tool you developed.

Pat: Yeah. The Fugly Packer. The problem that I was having was, if wanted a super, super dense bug, I was bending out all of the little brassy packers and stuff like that. You can’t put enough pressure on that hair. You can get them dense with the other packers, but you can’t get them really dense. Some of these bugs, you can literally take and sand them with a piece of sandpaper when you’re done trimming them out.

So, that was kind of what I was going for. The denser you make the hair bug, the better it floats and the more durable it becomes because you’ve got all this super tight-packed glued hair that’s firmly secured to this hook.

 

Flylords: How do you get such intricate color layers and patterns in your deer hair flies? 

Pat: When you’re making all those patterns the technique is called stacking. Stacking is basically working from the bottom side of the hook shank to the top side of the hook shank. And what stacking allows you to do is control every bit of hair that goes on that fly. So we talk about it in terms of pencil thicknesses although, rarely do the clumps of hair that we use actually resemble a pencil thickness. I mean, if you’re really getting into this, you’re using a fair amount of hair but, as a reference point, pencil thickness.

So, if I have three pencil thicknesses is my first clump of hair on the bottom of the fly. Let’s say I want the belly to be orange. So I get my clump of hair, my three pencil thickness clump of hair to the bottom of the fly. Now, I’ve got this orange belly. Then, I want the top of the fly to be segmented. Let’s say I want chartreuse, kelly green, and olive with some black barring in between. So in theory, you want the amount of hair on the bottom of the fly, and the amount of hair on the top of the fly to be somewhat close to the same. If you’re going to go over, you want more hair on top than you do on the bottom but, you try to keep it somewhat close.

So for easy math, let’s just say we separate the three main colors, which is that chartreuse, kelly, and olive. So one pencil thickness of each of those. And then, you want those black bars. So let’s say we take two other little clumps of black, maybe it’s a quarter of a pencil in thickness, not even enough to measure against the bottom clumps of hair. So you put your chartreuse down, and then you separate that in the middle, and then you put your kelly green right in the middle on top of that. Then you compress that and you put your little black bars in, and then you put your olive in the middle of that, and then you put another chunk of black on top of that. Meanwhile, you’re compressing the hair the whole time and adding more thread. You’re adding minimal wraps, two wraps per color. And then you’re pulling down real tight in between. 

And as you build that up, you’re creating these patterns. So on your last wrap, you put an extra wrap of thread through and then take your packer and you pack all that back. Then you advance your thread and do it all over again until you run out of hook space. But, basically, what you’re doing, as long as you’re not migrating your thread within those stacks of hair, is you’re just creating a pattern stack of multiple colors of hair. When you trim that out, you end up with all those bars and spots. That’s a simplified version of it because you can do all sorts of different things but, that’s the general gist of how to do that kind of a process. It does take some practice, don’t get me wrong, you can’t figure it out overnight. It took me a very long time to become somewhat competent at it.

Flylords: So tell us a little bit about the trimming process. The first cut you make with a razor always seems to be so oddly satisfying to watch. 

Pat: That first cut on the bottom, that’s your most important cut. That’s the telltale, did I pull my thread tight enough, close enough to that hook shank or is my first cut going to slice through that thread and 45 minutes of my life is going to fall on the floor. It happens either way. After a while, you start to figure out, all right okay, I got enough tension on this, I’m not going to worry about it. You trim carefully every bug that I trim, and I make thousands of bass bugs a year. I still trim every one of them very carefully.

Flylords: Where do you get the inspiration new patterns that you’re going to play with or develop?

Pat: So, whenever I’m developing a new fly, I’m trying to solve a problem on the water with that fly. The main reason that I tie flies is that I absolutely love to fish. So when I go out to fish and I’ve got my box loaded up with whatever flies I stuff in it for the day, I’m going out and I’m observing and I’m trying to figure out, okay these fish are doing A, B and C and I’ve got X Y and Z fly. Can I solve the problem? Can I catch fish? Can I fool them? And if I can’t, then I check a couple of things. I have a systematic approach to all fishing situations. 

So I start out with a fly that I like, and then move on from there, if that fly doesn’t catch fish, I look for obvious things. Are they feeding on crayfish, are they feeding on minnows, what size is the minnow, what’s the minnow doing. And then I choose a fly accordingly. And if I get my ass beat on the water that day, then I go home and I say, okay what was going on that I was not able to do with the selection of flies that I had. And then from there, I try to figure out, what is it that I think that I can do with a fly to entice more aggressive feeding behavior. Maybe that’s a color, maybe it’s size, maybe it’s an action. So then I come up with whatever it is I think is going to solve the problem, and then I go back out and hope that that same problem exists tomorrow. And test that fly for a while and see what happens, and then make changes and go from there. But it’s always related to something that I want the fly to do.

I get a lot of inspiration from the tackle world. Honestly, I’m obsessed with wooden lures. So all these swimbaits and glide baits, and jerk baits and all these cool things that are being made, hand-carved out of wood and stuff. I look at those things and I go, okay how do I make a fly do that or jigs and things like that, creature baits. That’s how that whole series of creature tails and all the things that I make came about. I wanted to be able to fish that stuff on the fly rod.

Flylords: Do you have a go-to pattern these days?

Pat: It depends on where I’m fishing, honestly. One of the flies that has always been good to me as a searching pattern is my … it’s called a Fat Head deceiver. It’s basically a big muddler that I fish on a sinking line, has always been a go-to fly for me. But, when I’m on these smaller streams, I do fish a lot of smaller waters for bass. My Jiggy Craw, is an absolute starter, go to because where I’m at, 70% of these smallmouth’s diets are made up of crayfish. Crayfish and then hellgrammites, so I use that a lot too, my Devil’s Drifter (above), which is a hellgrammite pattern. The Jiggy craw is definitely one, the Fat Head deceiver is definitely one. I like the Fat Heads on bigger waters although, I use them in the small streams too.

 

Flylords: How do you keep fly tying fun and challenging for yourself when you sit down just to tie for your own box or just to let the creative juices flow?

Pat: That’s a good question. So everybody’s got to do something. You got to do something for a living. So I look at fly tying, I look at it two different ways. So I still absolutely love tying flies and creating flies, and to me, it’s just fun. When I sit down, and I have an idea, I don’t think about the commercial aspect of most of the flies. I look at them and I’m trying to make what I want to go and fish with.

And if it’s successful after a season or whatever, and usually I send them around to a couple of buddies. And we all fish them, then talk about them and, get some feedback together. And I’ve got more failures in my box than I do successful flies because that’s just part of the process. 

I’m creating all these flies that I want to fish with, and tying flies for everybody else. It’s still exciting because I’m still excited to fish those flies. And if you look on my website, I only tie flies that I use. If people call me up and they’re like, hey man we need 16 dozen Adams, I will point them in the direction of somebody that can do that for them. 

I enjoy it, really. Part of that is getting those photographs back from people or getting the excited email like, “Hey man I just went on the trip of a lifetime and caught my biggest fish and blah, blah”… It makes it very satisfying and it keeps it very satisfying. 

Flylords: How does your approach differ when you’re tying an art fly?

Pat:  The art flies have no rules because they don’t need to perform in the water. So you can get a little crazy with those things. You can make whatever you want, really. If you don’t have to worry about it balancing or keeling or moving a certain way, so you can just have fun. A lot of the time when I’m … Like, the Punk Rocker, that was the first display style fly that I had ever made. And it was just about … really it was just about having some fun with deer hair. Like, hey can I make this crazy looking thing. And from there, people were like, dude can you make a fish, can you make this, can you make a bird. And I was like, well all right. I was already making the fishable birds but, I do these display birds every once in a while too. It was just kind of a challenge, really. What can I make deer hair do that I didn’t think I could do yesterday? And it’s still kind of like that. 

I made a Death Head hawkmoth for my stepfather for his birthday. I did all these crazy realistic legs on it, and just fun stuff. I made this popper for this dude a few years ago, and I carved out Papa Smurf.

Flylords: What’s next for Pat Cohen in 2020?

Pat: Well, I wrote a book. That’s coming out at the end of January, Super Bass Flies. It’s got anglers and fly tyers from all over the place in it. Basically, I put everything that I know about smallmouth and largemouth fishing in this book. I wrote about the water column, the food sources and how those two interact. I wrote about how bass behave, so there’s a lot of biology, there’s a lot of fishing technique. And then there’s 42 step-by-steps of my flies in this book. I think the count was like 108 flies from other fly tyers, representing all those various food sources. It was quite a project. It took almost two years. So that’s coming out like the end of January, and that’s pretty exciting!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Pat Cohen for taking the time to sit down with us and give a glimpse into his ever-creative mind. His latest book will be coming out later this month, but you can pre-order it at the links below!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Continue reading “Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen”

When the Stars Align – Giant Kyped Brown Trout

When the Stars Align – Giant Kyped Brown Trout thumbnail

Sometimes the stars align, and sometimes they don’t. Fly fishing is notorious for leaving us with a plethora of “what if’ moments that haunt us when we sleep. “The one that got away,” isn’t just a saying, but a harsh reality that most experience far more often than they would like to admit.

In these periods of fishing hardship, I find myself second-guessing my motives. “Why am I out here?” “Is this really worth it?” It becomes easy to separate the real ones from the weak ones. Subzero temps, frozen guides, and fishless days are what make or break a fly fisherman. This sport is demanding. True grit is required, and without it, dreams stay dreams.

At some point, the opportunity presents itself. The countless hours and numb fingers pay off in one magical moment. The fish of your dreams comes out to play, and everything comes together in perfect harmony. Time itself freezes. Screaming drag, racing heart, 27 inches; kype. The moment when adrenaline sucks the cold from your bones, surroundings fade, and there is nothing in the world but you and that fish.

It’s what we are all after; that shining feeling of success. It drives us day in and day out, cast after cast after cast. The ever-elusive fantasy fish always lurks somewhere in the depths. Maybe today’s the day, maybe next year.

Any true fly fisherman understands that these moments do not happen all the time. They must be earned through dedication, suffering, and unwavering passion. Without putting in the hours, you never know what is truly possible. Your one moment may be waiting just behind the next bend, in the next riffle, or on your next cast.

Next time you find yourself with little motivation, questioning if getting out of bed at 4:00 am is even worth it; the answer is simple. Maybe. Just maybe; but you’ll never know until you’re out there, on the stream, in the moment, with nothing on your mind but the fish of a lifetime. Grind, grind and grind some more because sometimes, the stars align.

Angler and article by Ameen Hosain, check him out on Instagram @thefishboulder. Additional photos from Mark Rauschenberger (@markierausch), who was able to provide Ameen with mental support in landing this epic fish.

Breaking First Water, Dawn Till Dusk Fly Fishing

Gear Review: Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23

WHAT IS IT?
Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23

WHAT SETS IT APART?
A convenient size with lots of storage-minded elements, the Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23 looks like a good fit for a quick weekender where you might carry a single tackle tray, a few packs of plastic baits, light tools and a tablet to scout new spots on Google Maps. Made from durable, 1000D Nylon material lined with 420D Nylon ripstop, the space-efficient design holds a rectangular profile that will fit under an airline seat and won’t whack folks near you every time you turn around.

HOW DO I USE IT?
Measuring 12 1/2 inches wide, 18 tall and 7 deep, the Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23 features a roomy top pocket for smaller items like pliers, sunglasses, wallet and keys and two exterior bottle pockets that remain magnetically collapsed between use. The interior design features a main compartment with multiple organizational elements that will hold tackle trays, rain gear, leader spools, etc., and a rear padded pocket for a tablet or a laptop up to 15 1/2 inches. Yeti’s Structure Arc design feature keeps the bag upright and opens wide for loading/unloading, while an articulated back panel adjusts to the user’s shape.

HOW MUCH?
$199

MORE INFORMATION:
Yeti.com

ANGLER’S INSIGHT:
Right out of the shipping box, the Crossroads 23 stands up with no additional items to weigh it down, while the weatherproof bottom material helps protect your possessions wherever you need to sit the backpack. Wide, well-padded straps have a firm feel with smooth edges for a comfortable wear and cleverly concealed attachment loops beneath the exterior fabric. The hidden zippered stash pocket on the back is a nice touch and a convenient reach for passports, cellphones, etc.

Artist Spotlight: Anthony Annable

Artist Spotlight: Anthony Annable thumbnail

Flylords: Who is Anthony Annable?

Anthony: I’m a fish artist based in the UK behind @antartoutdoors. The majority of my art consists of freshwater gamefish with also a few saltwater species.

Flylords: What came first the fish or the art?

Anthony: From an early age, fishing was always a big part of my life. It was only until I discovered flyfishing at the age of six I was completely hooked. I started drawing small sketches of trout in my spare time or at school, mainly in the back of my maths books haha.

Flylords: What is your Go-To medium? When did you start working in it?

Anthony: I painted and drew with colored pencils for many years until I transferred over to digital art.

Flylords: Do you have a favorite piece of artwork?

Anthony: Currently, my favorite piece of artwork would be the ”12 Trout Species” or my ”Brown Trout Growth Chart”

Flylords: Favorite catch on a fly rod?

Anthony: My most memorable catch on a fly rod was landing my first Atlantic salmon.

Flylords: Biggest accomplishment as an artist?

Anthony: To date, my biggest achievement as an artist was reaching 10k followers on Instagram as this was a big milestone for me.

Flylords: Any advice for other artists in the fishing space?

Anthony: Some good advice is to always be persistent with your work. Create art which you find motivating, you will go further as an artist making things you enjoy.

Flylords: What’s next?

Anthony: I am very devoted to my work and wish to continue creating more new artwork for my audience and social media. My future goal is to cover a more different verity of fish, freshwater & saltwater.

You can follow along with Anthony on Instagram @antartoutdoors or at https://www.antartoutdoors.com/.

Artist Spotlight: Mandy Hertzfeld

Artist Spotlight: Eric Estrada

Artist Spotlight: Ed Anderson

 

Bahamas Adventure: Delphi Lodge Spotlight

Bahamas Adventure: Delphi Lodge Spotlight thumbnail

When people say fly fishing trips are all about the adventure of getting to the destination, I’m not sure they factor in flight delays…

Our simple hour-long puddle jumper flight from Fort Lauderdale to Abaco turned into a 24-hour nightmare. Some local rain showers and technical difficulties on the part of Silver Airways made the journey a little longer than expected.

The good news was that the West Palm airport had a putting-green and bar in the terminal….

When we finally made it to Abaco, we were greeted by a large SUV and an even larger smile from Marjorie, a local Bahamian woman driving the shuttle for Delphi. We drove about 30 minutes south of the airport and pulled down a long driveway that felt like we were going on a jungle safari.

Pulling up to the Delphi Club, we were greeted by Max, the charismatic manager, who quickly helped us get our bags into our rooms, simultaneously cracking open a few local Bahamian beers. After my first sip, I could tell this was going to be the first beer of many for the week.

We walked out onto Delphi’s front balcony and were greeted by one of the most spectacular views I had ever seen. Not another person, building, boat in sight, just pure solitude, an endless view of the ocean and a gigantic front porch. Our rooms were upstairs from the dining room and the lodge itself felt like an old school mansion from one of Quentin Tarrantino’s movies.

We plan out our week of fishing that night, and talk about some of the photos / videos we would like to try and capture. We are creating a short film for the lodge, and want to capture what this place is all about.

We spent our first day in the Marls with Robin, one of the many legendary guides that work for Delphi. Robin pulled straight onto one of his favorite flats and we sight fished to tailing bonefish in crystal clear calm water all morning. We even gave Robin the rod for a few casts and he caught the biggest fish of the day!

At night all the lodge guests would gather for cocktail hour on the front porch. Fried zucchini, local conch, and tuna sashimi were served to guests as they chatted about who caught more fish. Appetizers were followed by an insane dinner at the large dining table smack in the middle of the lodge. It was on these nights that I realized this place was about a lot more than just catching fish. It was amazing sitting across from a complete stranger, and having so much in common…

Over our few days at Delphi, we had fantastic fishing, made some new friends, and learned a ton from the knowledgable guides at the Delphi Club. Beers were drunk, laughs were had, and we even found a pod of Tarpon, which was just icing on the cake.

As far as Bahamas trips go, we couldn’t have asked for better accommodations, guided fishing, and overall fishing experience, we would highly recommend this place and are looking forward to the chance of heading back.

Check out the Delphi Club online here or check them out on Instagram @thedelphibonefishclub.

Lodge Spotlight: Thatch Caye Island Resort – Blue Horizon Belize

Yellowstone Angler’s 2020 5 Weight Shootout

Yellowstone Angler’s 2020 5 Weight Shootout thumbnail

Every year, George Anderson, owner of the Yellowstone Angler in Livingston, Montana, assemble a list of the best 5-weight rods, broken into two categories: presentation and performance, available on the market and put them head-to-head against each other. This annual list is an amazing reference point for anglers looking to upgrade their 5-weight, and the insights provided by the list are far worth a read for anyone looking to pick one up. The team at the shop goes into insane detail to show exactly how these rods perform, using the same reel and line in every test. Yellowstone Anglers’ half-century of fly shop and fly rod experience makes these annual lists invaluable.

32, 5-weight rods entire, two leave. That’s how the Shootout works.

For full results and in-depth discussion of reach rod, check out the Shootout’s page, here.

This Year’s Entrants (Alphabetical):

Presentation: Rods “more suited to fishing dry flies that give you the ultimate in accuracy, delicacy, and presentation.”

Beulah Platinum G2 – $550

Douglas Outdoors Sky G 9 – $795

Fenwick AETOS – $199.95

G. Loomis NRX + LP – $795

Hardy Shadow – $359.95

Hardy Zephrus – $699

Orvis Helios 3F – $898

Sage Trout LL – $800

Scott G Series – $845

Thomas & Thomas Paradigm – $875

Winston Air – $975

Power: Rods “that have the strength to cast more wind resistant dries, and also chuck nymphs with indicators, and even small streamers with ease.”

Beulah Guide Series II – $295

Douglas DXF – $395

Echo Base – $99.99

Echo Trout – $349.99

Fenwick Fenlite Streamflex – $339.95

G. Loomis NRX + – $795

G. Loomis Asquith – $1,100

Loop 7S Medium Fast – $950

Orvis Clearwater – $198

Orvis Recon – $498

Orvis Helios 3D – $898

Sage Foundation – $325

Sage X – $900

Scott Radian – $795

St. Croix Imperial – $300

Taylor Anomaly -$559

Taylor Truth – $649

TFO BVK – $259.95

Thomas & Thomas Avantt – $845

Thomas & Thomas Zone – $499

Winston Alpha – $935

To find out which 5-weights took home the top rung in each category, check out the Shootout results on the Yellowstone Angler’s page, here!

Continue reading “Yellowstone Angler’s 2020 5 Weight Shootout”

Rusty Flybox: To Give is Better

Earlier in the week I put out another fly fishing gift guide. Such posts are seasonally relevant and hopefully helpful. But lists can only be so long and still stay readable. Furthermore, including something necessitates excluding something else. So what if none of those gifts tinseled your tree?

Today I’ve gathered up a number of gift-giving articles from the Casting Across archives. Some were put out for Christmas, some were released for other holidays. Some are simply products I think you (or that special somebody) would enjoy. Below are over a dozen links, each containing multiple gift options. Plus, you can read why I think each item is worth giving.

Additionally, if you have a question about the gear listed – or anything else, for that matter – please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally. I’ll gladly answer to the best of my ability.

Continue reading “Rusty Flybox: To Give is Better”

Eric Clapton’s Two Record-Setting Icelandic Salmon

Eric Clapton’s Two Record-Setting Icelandic Salmon thumbnail

It turns out Eric Clapton is as good at playing guitar as he is at landing massive Atlantic Salmon. Fly fishing has been a part of the English musician’s life since he learned to fly fish on his home waters, the River Wey in Surrey, England. He has been making an annual summer migration to Iceland since 2000 to chase the big Atlantic Salmon the island nation is known for and, in recent years, set two season records.

Clapton’s record salmon from 2016

Eric’s first record fish, was landed in 2016 and measured 42.5 inches and weighed 28 pounds. His second (top image) occurred the very next season and taped out 41-inches and weighed 25 pounds. Both fish were taken on the Vatnsdalsá River, one of Iceland’s most notorious Atlantic Salmon Rivers. This river is also world-famous for being one of the only fly-fishing only, catch-and-release rivers in Iceland, meaning both of these fish were released moments after these shots were taken.

 

Clapton has credited fly fishing with aiding 30-year recovery from addiction, saying in his autobiography, Clapton: The Autobiography:

“That first summer of my recovery was one of the most beautiful I can remember, perhaps because I was healthy and clean, and I began to rent some trout-fishing days for myself, mostly on stretches of water in the neighborhood that had been specifically stocked for local fisherman… Fishing is an absorbing pastime and has a Zen quality to it. It’s an ideal pursuit for anyone who wants to think a lot and get things in perspective. It was also a perfect way of getting physically fit again, involving as it does a great deal of walking. I would go out at the crack of dawn and often stay out till nighttime… For once I was actually becoming good at something that had nothing to do with guitar playing or music. For the first time in a long time, I was doing something very normal and fairly mundane, and it was really important to me.”

Eric even made sure that when he was on tour, he was always close to fishing opportunities, often requesting that his manager, Roger Forrester, only book accommodations near to fly fishing areas, often spending hours on the water before gigs.

To read more about Eric’s love of fly fishing, check out this awesome interview done by our friends over at Gink and Gasoline!

Sources: Men’s Journal & The Iceland Monitor

Continue reading “Eric Clapton’s Two Record-Setting Icelandic Salmon”

Gear we love right now: November 2019

What’s working on the water

by Chad Shmukler

Yakima Double Haul rooftop rod carrier
Yakima’s Double Haul rooftop rod carrier (photo: Chad Shmukler).
Fly anglers are inundated with gear choices—rods, reels, boots, waders, lines, packs, bags, boxes, vests, apparel and more. Each year, it seems harder and harder to know what’s worth coveting and what’s worth ignoring. Sure, gear reviews are a great way to get a feel for what might be right for you, but not every piece of gear is suited to a full-length review and, even if it were, there’s simply too much of it to get to. With that in mind, we’re debuting a new, monthly feature showcasing gear that’s working for us on the water right now, to hopefully offer more helpful feedback on gear that’s worth a second look.

And it’s worth noting that we won’t be restricting this column to only new gear. The goal here is to provide useful feedback on gear that works—not to help gin up marketing for new products. Sometimes, great gear has just hit the market, other times it’s been here doing good work all along.

YETI PANGA BAGS
Last year, we ventured into a remote rainforest canyon in Chile, reachable only via a long horseback ride over some very rough terrain. Even on a typical ride in—one without the 5 inches of rain that pounded down upon us throughout the trek—gear that is strapped to the packhorses gets smashed and scraped against rock, busted through thicket and tree limbs, and slathered with mud. It’s for this reason that, before being set astride the pack horses, all bags get stuffed into incomprehensibly large, roll-top, waterproof sacks that swallow 3 or 4 full-size duffels at a time. But when sack space ran out for our gear-overloaded group, the gaucho was forced to inspect the duffels and select one to make the trip without the extra protection. You might not be surprised to learn that it was the YETI Panga 100L duffel that made the cut—and, despite taking a heap of abuse the whole ride in, arrived in camp no worse for wear.

Like everything YETI makes, its Panga series of waterproof bags are gleefully over-engineered—whether its Panga duffels or the Panga backpack (seen below). And that’s a good thing when you’re counting on a bag to keep your clothes, electronics and other valuables safe and dry. Unlike most of YETI’s lineup, however, the extra engineering and toughness doesn’t come at a premium, as the Panga lineup is priced right in line with other waterproof bags from competitors.

©Earl Harper

2-for-1. Orvis’ Helios 3 and YETI’s Panga backpack at work on a rain-soaked salmon stream in the Icelandic highlands (photo: Earl Harper).

ORVIS HELIOS 3

The Helios 3 (seen above) isn’t news anymore. It’s been around for a while now. It’s received a heaping of accolades—as well as its fair share of flack for its can’t-miss-it-on-the-water white butt section. But it’s a series fly rods that continues to impress as we continue to explore it. The do-it-all 5 weights (the “D” and “F” variants) are distinct in character while both being incredibly versatile and we’re often torn on which to fish when heading out for much of our trout fishing. The 7-weight D series has logged many hours slinging streamers on waters both big and small—as it has proven equally well suited to throwing big streamers on long, sinking lines as well as up-close and personal streamer fishing, something we do more and more of these days, making technical, short presentations with floating lines and short, stout leaders. In the salt, the Helios 3 series shines too—with both the 7 and 8 weight H3 excelling when stalking tails on bonefish flats. Truth be told, we’ve yet to fish an H3 model that didn’t end up becoming a favorite.

YAKIMA DOUBLE HAUL ROOFTOP ROD CARRIER

Rooftop rod carriers are certainly nothing new. But, not long ago, they were a highly niche-market item with a limited number of choices available from only a few select retailers. Recently, however, the market for rooftop rod carriers seems to be expanding rapidly. Numerous smaller startups seem to be finding success with a variety of different multi-rod carrier configurations, each with their own unique construction and features. Most recently, Yakima—one of the two largest manufacturers of car and truck-mounted systems—entered the fray with their first fishing-focused offerings, one of which is their Double Haul rooftop fly-rod carrier.

Relatively easy to setup and install, the Double Haul swallows 4 fly rods of up to 11 feet in length as well as big spey and saltwater reels (up to 12 weight). The construction is confidence-inspiring and thoughtful features like felt lined reel bays and rubber spacers for longer, bouncier rides don’t go unnoticed. If, like me, you’re already a Yakima user, you’ll also appreciate that the Double Haul’s locking rear hatch fully integrates with Yakima’s SKS (single key system), meaning you won’t have to add more keys to your already overburdened keyring.

PATAGONIA SHELLED INSULATOR PANTS

Are these the finest under-wader pants ever made? Maybe. Typically, I’m not a fan of wearing much besides baselayers under waders. Warm weather under-wader pants never seem to offer much except unnecessary bulk. Under-wader pants made for colder weather offer even more bulk. In my experience, cold-weather under-wader pants often lead to temperature regulation struggles, as well—hiking in to the river tends to lead to sweltering, panic-inducing, sweat-producing heat which then, regardless of how well your gear wicks moisture, leaves you wet and cold once you settle into a beat on the river. Patagonia’s Shelled Insulator Pants, however, seem to suffer from none of these flaws. Their slim fit and lock-down cuffs let them slide into waders neatly and easily and doesn’t offer any movement-restricting bulk. They’re fleece-grid lined, which offers warmth in addition to or in place of a pair of baselayer pants, but doesn’t trap enough heat to lead to overheating. They’re also perfectly well suited to street wear and stupidly comfortable—so much so that they’re getting even more use on the couch than they are on the water.

TRAILHEAD AUTOMATIC TIRE DEFLATORS

Here on the mid-Atlantic coast, October and November is beach season. Not blanket-and-umbrella beach season, but chasing-birds-and-bait beach season—in search of stripers, bluefish and false albacore. And beach runs mean airing down your tires so that your truck doesn’t dig itself a giant hole in the sand. If you’ve ever aired down your tires, you know that kneeling at each tire, manually pressing the valve stem to let air escape and repeatedly checking the pressure until you’ve reached your target is a tedious, enormous time suck. Enter Trailhead Tire Deflators. With these deflators, there’s no manually letting air out and no pressure checking. They come in sets of four, pre-set from the factory at a beach-friendly 13-or-so pounds, and are easily adjustable to other desired pressures. When you’re within a half mile or so of your destination, you just screw them on to your valve stems and they automatically air down your tires as you finish the rest of your drive—stopping when they reach their pre-set pressure limit. While Trailhead Deflators aren’t the only automatic tire deflators on the market, they’re the most well-built (mostly thanks to fewer moving parts), easy-to-use and reliable of those we’ve tested.

Product Spotlight: Scientific Anglers Absolute Tippet

Product Spotlight: Scientific Anglers Absolute Tippet thumbnail

Scientific Anglers released their all-new Absolute Tippet this fall at the IFTD show in Denver. During the IFTD show, Scientific Anglers took home the award for Best New Leader/Tippet with Absolute Trout Tippet. So we wanted to learn a little bit more about the tippet so we asked Scientific Angler’s own R+D Manager Josh Jenkins a couple of questions.

Flylords: How is Absolute Tippet (Mono) different from SA’s previous mono tippet?

Josh: Absolute monofilament is completely new material for SA.  The magic in creating a great monofilament boils down to material blends and coatings.  There are a bunch of varieties and grades of nylon that can be blended together to obtain different properties.  For Absolute, we selected a blend to obtain the highest possible wet knot strength.  We emphasize wet knot strength because it is the metric that best represents how tippet is used in the field: it will always be used on water and it will always have a knot in it.  Once we selected an optimal material, we found a coating that further enhances those properties.  The coating is there to limit water absorption (which weakens nylon) and to reduce friction generated heat from knots.

Flylords: What improvements can anglers expect from the new Absolute tippets?

Josh: We’ve been able to achieve a 30% strength gain in wet knot strength over our older nylon material, so anglers have a huge advantage in fishing strength out of the gate.  Our coating also means that Absolute has a longer shelf life, so it won’t degrade as quickly as other monofilaments when it’s sitting on a pack or in a boat.  We’ve also created new retaining bands for our tippet that are made of soft rubber.  Compared to older, metal grommet style bands, these provide better protection from the environment and they eliminate the possibility of weakening tippet through contact with metal.

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about the Absolute Stealth tippet line.

Josh: Absolute stealth tippet uses the same base material and coating, but has a light olive tint.  It sounds counterintuitive, because a fully clear tippet seems stealthier, but the truth is that all monofilament casts a shadow when it is floating on the surface of water.  From underneath, floating tippet looks like a dark shadow, and on sunny days it can even be fairly reflective.  The olive tint helps to absorb some of that light, so fish see less line flash, especially on high sun days.

Flylords: Will Guide-Size spools be offered? 

Josh: 100M guide spools are coming in 2021, so keep an eye out!

Flylords: Any other products we should be on the lookout for heading into 2020?

Josh: We’ve added our popular general-purpose Infinity taper into Amplitude, so that is now available with texturing.  We also took what we learned from creating the freshwater Infinity and made a saltwater version.  Infinity Salt is available in Amplitude and Amplitude Smooth.  It has a longer head length than most of our salt lines.  It’s great for accurate, long shots but it still has enough mass to turn over large flies and combat wind.

To get your hands on the all-new line of tippet check out SA online and on Instagram.


Photos from Jesse Packwood of Team Flylords on their recent adventure to British Columbia.

Flylords Holiday Gift Guide 2019