Saturday, December 28, 2013

Marijuana & Metalheads

Last winter I was fortunate to do a multi-day float down one of California's most historic steelhead and salmon rivers, the Eel.  Although we never felt a pull, it was an amazing place to be and at the same time very disheartening viewing the devastation man has caused to that ecosystem.  There were many hillsides where you would look up and see evidence of deforestation from the logging industry, which subsequently loosened the fragile soil and sediment that has found it's way into that river.  To just say the siltation in that river is bad is in fact a huge understatement.  The tent I used on that trip still has Eel River silt in it that I've deemed near impossible to eradicate.  It's wild how quickly a solid rain can muck up that system.  I recall a different trip in which I was fishing a run on the Eel, it started to rain, and by the time I finished the run the river had completely gone chocolate.

Although the effects of logging in that area are still being felt, there is a new epidemic looming and already making its presence felt in the State of Jefferson.  It's pot farming.  Growing marijuana in the emerald triangle isn't a new phenomena by any means, but it appears in recent times to be skyrocketing, and there are estimates that there is $7 BILLION worth of marijuana coming out of that area.

With the avenue of Prop 215 passing in 1996 legalizing medical marijuana and the subsequent growth of marijuana culture, there is a huge demand for the product. With that comes also an increasing number of people wanting to become suppliers (i.e. illegal and/or legal growers) and an influx of Mexican cartels growing in the area as well.  Check out this video and it will show via Google Maps just a small sample of how many farms are popping up in the last few years.

 Albeit is a tempting way to make a substantial amount of money and it can be done in a relatively short season, it is creating huge detrimental effects on the ecosystems in which the crops are farmed.  Pesticides and fertilizers used for growing can get into the systems resulting in poisoned water.  Road and farm clearing ands more to the already terrible siltation problem.  Irrigation lines placed in small spawning tributaries can sometimes suck up so much water that it leaves it dry.  Not to mention the inherent danger of working one of these farms.  Do a quick search on marijuana murders in the area and you'll find a treasure trove of violent stories.  There's money in this product and many are more than willing to risk their lives for it.

So what needs to be done?  Like anything, there are always two sides.  If marijuana and marijuana farming is legalized in California, it would be an interesting unfolding of events.  From a simple economic standpoint, by legalizing it, commercialized interests would get involved, produce the product on a large scale, and subsequently the price would plummet.  If this did happen, one would believe that these Mexican cartels and local farmers wouldn't continue their small-scale farms due to the fact that it would not make financial sense for them and they would no longer see the exorbitant profits they once enjoyed.  What would happen if things remain the same and marijuana is still illegal?  For starters, there is hope that maybe the market will soon become saturated by itself due to the already increasing influx of farming and the price of pot will plummet on it's own.  Then again though, where is that proverbial  point at which supply greatly exceeds demand and starts causing a huge price decrease?  And then once that happens, do these farmers just up and stop producing marijuana?  One thing is for certain though, marijuana use and farming is ingrained in part of the culture in the emerald triangle.  Legal or not, those types of people will always continue to grow.  It's hard to tell what the future holds for both the marijuana industry and steelhead in that area.  I guess only time will tell.  Undoubtedly though, this is a beautiful area and it needs to be protected.

Stay fly,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Custom Intruder Flies

Purple & Pink
Most of you know I tie my own flies.  Always have, always will.  Since I've become obsessed with the pursuit of steelhead on a two-handed rod with a swung fly, naturally I've become obsessed with tying the flies for these fish as well.  I first came across intruders patterns at a demo at Sierra Anglers from Greg Nault (who is undoubtedly one of the best tiers I have ever witnessed).  Like the progressive of most things in life go, I completely sucked at tying intruders when I first started.  Most of those first intruders were sentenced to the razor blade and cut up.  I stuck with it and kept my standards high and I believe I now tie some acceptable intruder patterns.  That being said, c
ommercially tied intruders just suck. Profile in these flies is paramount and commercial versions are simply not tied in a manner to maintain the profile these flies are intended to have.  Not to mention that these commercial versions are tied by some poor girl in east Asia who has probably never even heard of a steelhead.  Here's a comparison photo below.  My tie is on top and the commercial tie is on bottom.
Commercially Tied Comparison  
I've tied these flies now for awhile for a small group of people and have to decided to offer them more publicly.  My flies have caught steelhead from British Columbia to the Pacific Northwest.  
I believe in quality flies and that has been my premise since day one.  I use only quality materials and am constantly searching for ways to produce better flies.  I use stainless steel shanks to prevent rust.  The connection wire is coated stainless steel to prevent the hook from sagging, fouling, or catching the bottom.  I only use Owner Cutting Point hooks.  They're not cheap, but in my opinion they are the best.  For storage and protection, each one of my intruders ships with a fly tube.  These tubes allow the fly to hold its profile and not get smashed by other flies in a box.    
Fly Tube
For starters, I'm offering a 6-pack with tubes for $50 + shipping.  If you're interested, email me at and we can get you started. These are custom flies, so if you have a certain color scheme you have confidence in, I can tie it.  Thanks!
For Sale

Stay fly, 


Monday, November 4, 2013

Season Ender

Eggs, eggs, eggs
The 2013 local river season has now officially ended.  Conditions-wise it was tough to say the least.  Low flows as a result of the ever hungry water barons and lack of rain took its tole this year.  Simply put, a good day numbers-wise was counted if only a few fish were hooked.  We had to earn our fish this year.  One might think this to be a completely terrible thing, but in keeping the glass half-full, new techniques, strategies, and methods were attempted and sometimes led to moderate success.
Greg's nice bow
Matt's 18"er
Spencer with a good one
Albeit overall it was quite dismal on the home waters this year, the one shimmer of hope is that it seems as if the salmon run in all 3 rivers is quite well.  Time will tell once it's over but the run seems to be shaping up well.  Some really great days were experienced in the weeks leading up to the closure.
Dead King
In other news, my dad, a few friends, and I made it up to the Lower Sac to try our luck.  The egg bite was still definitely on, but that particular weekend seemed to be a popular one with others as well.  Lots of boats to say the least, but we still managed a handful of fish everyday out there.  Not knowing the river very well didn't help matters either.  If you're interested in spending a day up on the Sac I'd recommend hiring either Anthony Carruesco or Matt Formento.  They're good friends of ours and know the river well and can put you into fish even when the river is pressured.
good friends
Lower Sac bow
In the midst of all the hustle of everyday life and whatnot, I did manage to sneak away with the two-hander for just a few short days to do some swing steelheading up north.  Luckily for me, I picked a great time and the fish were there and I was able to land a few hot wild fish.  A wet fly I developed last season proved to be what worked yet again (it's true about what they say in fly confidence in steelheading).  Managed to hook up one on a dry fly skater too but unfortunately it came unbuttoned.  Like all good trips, this one was too short, but hey it's better than nothing.
Fall Steelhead 1

As we head into what's left of 2013, I'm not sure what's on the menu as far as fishing goes.  One thing I know is that this is my favorite fishing season and good things tend to happen this time of year, so we'll just sit back and enjoy life and fishing as it happens.  Hopefully I'll get to explore some new water and visit old spots that feel like an old friend I haven't visited with in awhile.  Either way, exciting times are around the corner and all you have to do is get out there!

Stay fly,

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sid Fishes

Here's just a cool quick and dirty steelhead fly that'll get the job done. Many shank style intruder flies these days are very overly complex and difficult to tie. Jeff Hickman's Sid Fishes isn't one of those. Simplicity is key with this one. What's truly nice also is that all the materials are easy to find and readily available. With a name like Sid Fishes I attempted to keep the Sex Pistols/punk rock theme alive in this quick edit. Anyway, here is the material list for SID FISHES!

Hook: Gamakatsu Octopus #2
Shank: Tiemco 9395 #2
Connection: Econoflex Wire, Fine
Butt: Ice Dub, UV Fluorescent Hot Pink
Rear Collar: Polar Chenille, UV Fluorescent Fuschia
Body: Flashabou, Holographic Purple
Rib: Copper Wire
Front Body: Ice Dub, Purple
Front Collar: Guinea, Purple
Topping: Flashabou, Holographic Purple
Head: Silver Cone, large

Thanks for checking it out!

Stay Fly,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Lower Deschutes

Early morning swing

My girlfriend, Domi, is sick.  Doc said bronchitis, complete with a nasty cough and headache.  He prescribes the usual antibiotics, so we head to Raley's to fill the prescription and the pharmacist says it'll be about 25 minutes.  Definitely needing the drugs we decide to wait it out and head over to the magazine rack to kill the time.  She grabs a Cosmo or something like that and I pick up a fly mag off the shelf.  Low and behold, what's the first line I see??

You Could Die

"Rowing the Deschutes - You Could Die There"

Naturally Domi catches sight of this and her mind races.  I try and calm her down saying it's probably one of those sayings like "the fishing is SO good you could DIE there and be happy."  Not until after reading the article I realize that yup, the author meant it in the most literal way.  Having put his driftboat sideways into a rock and having a ton of water crash over the gunnel, he most definitely meant it in the most literal way possible.  So I explain to Domi that I'll be taking my raft which is more capable of handling whitewater than a driftboat. Deep down though, I was kind of nervous, with excitement and fear.

Flashback to before the trip was planned.  My buddy, Rick, and I had been trying to plan an Oregon steelhead trip for awhile.  During a trip looking for a house to buy up there, he shot over to the Ump for a few sessions.  Lightning struck, but he didn't think the Ump was in great shape overall.  This low water year, which we are all feeling the effects of, obviously hit the North Umpqua as well.  Many of the usual runs just aren't there this year.  Naturally we try and think of a back up plan.  Ironically, we both mention the Lower Deschutes.  Neither of us had ever fished it, let alone even been there.  Rick and I, being the "let's do this, we'll figure out the details later" people we are, both agreed that this float trip was happening.  Our buddy, Dennis, had already taken time off to fish the Ump but soon realized that the Deschutes sounded like a better option, so he came along with us as well.  After committing, the planning started to come into full effect.  I naturally hopped on the internet and quickly realized that this float was 31 miles in the desert without any roads nearby to bail out on.  Also, it was littered with quite a few Class III rapids.  Rick and I both have very limited experience rowing, so I thought this could get interesting.  As it turns out, sometimes trial by fire is the best teacher and none of the rapids were way above our ability level.  Albeit I did have one rapid that ejected a big water canteen and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but hey I'm alive and kept my boat upright.  Anyway, I'll shut up now and let the photos do the talking!

Canyon country
Trout on the swing
My ride
Camp 1
Battle wounds
Sunset after a big pull
The cast
Morning sky
The fight
Pure joy
The product of 10,000 casts

These next two photos I just have to give some backstory on.  Rick had just got a grab but the fish came off.  I was standing next to him shooting photos when he made his very next cast.  After he shot out his Scandi head, did a pull back mend, and dropped his rod for the swing, he announced, "I'm getting a grab right here."  Just like Babe Ruth calling his shot,  not even a second after Rick said that, BOOM.  He got a grab and his reel was screaming.  After I got back home and was checking out the photos, I saw in the metadata in the photos there was literally 14 seconds between these two photos.
Setting up the swing
2 seconds after saying, "I'm getting bit here"

Downstream Run
He called it
Little fella
The Release
Screaming Reel
Rose a fish!
Last Cast

Stay fly


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Test Driving the New Spey Line from Sage/Redington

New Sage/Redington Rods\
Many of you know I've become quite a spey junkie in these past few years.  After building my Z-Axis 5110-4 and going through the arduous learning process, I can finally make some decent casts.  It's truly opened my eyes to new possibilities and literally changed my whole primary focus in fly fishing.  I absolutely love swinging the two-hander for steelhead!  In my opinion, there is no better method or fish in all of angling.  Yes, I do love dry fly trout and I do have a special spot for largemouth bass, but like so many others that first grab did me in.  I am now addicted to the swing.  The tug truly is a drug.  Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Bob, of Sierra Anglers, recently gave me the opportunity to go up to the American River to meet with the Far Bank (Sage, Redington, Rio) rep to test drive many of their new products with the focus on their new spey line up.  I've never done much actual reviewing so I'll try and spare everyone the BS and stick to what I thought worked and what seems like another marketing gimmick.  With my background in business I understand that in this fast paced world companies have to continue to innovate and push new products out to the market.  However, that being said, sometimes there are new products that are good, but just not leaps and bounds better than the previous, older model.  I'll try and highlight a few of those as well.

I'll start things off with what impressed me the most.

Sage Method 7126-4 & Sage One 7126-4
Method 7126-4
One 7126-4

This 12'6" 7wt Method was the first rod I test drove and let me just say it was awesome!  It is incredibly light in the hand, tossed tight loops, and especially had  great "feel."  One of the big questions about these new 12'6" models was how they would stack up against the now old 12'6" TCX notoriously known as the "Deathstar."  The Deathstar is an amazing rod and I would personally love to have one, but like everything it has its purpose.  It is an incredibly fast rod and can toss the big bugs and heavy sink tips with ease.  However, it does lack "feel" and doesn't load very deep, especially with a Scandi line.  Thats where the new Method and One come in.  Both of these rods definitely have more feel.  They load deeper, but not too deep to the point where the rod feels flimsy.  In a perfect world, where I had every rod I wanted, I would put a Method or One 7126-4 in my quiver for throwing Scandi set-ups and still keep the Deathstar for Skagit/sink-tip/big fly work.

In regards to the difference between the 7136-4 Method and the 7136-4 One, I honestly couldn't tell much of a difference other than the paint job.  Both rods are incredible and had similar feel.  I would love to own either of them!

Recommended Line Match-up Casted
Scandi:  540gr Steelhead Scandi

Redington 6126-4 Dually

After starting off the evening with the top end rod, I went to Redington's new Dually series.  Right of the bat, something that impressed me about this rod was it's styling.  Hats off to whoever designed this look.  It harks back to early styling of spey rods with an all cork reel seat with chrome fittings.  Aside from its looks, this rod casted mediocre at best.  It felt somewhat sloppy, but take that with a grain of salt.  This rod will also retail for only $249.  Stark contrast from the near $1k a new Method will set you back.  The Dually is an entry level Spey rod and for a beginner I think it'd be a great rod.

Recommended Line Match-up
Scandi:  400gr Steelhead Scandi

Sage Method 7136-4 & Sage One 7136-4
One 7136-4

These new 13'6" 7wt's were the rods I thought had the most to prove to me.  I spent a few days floating the Eel this past winter and I used a buddy's 7136-4 Z-Axis the whole time.  I love that rod!  It can toss everything from heavy winter junk with T-20 sink tips to a light Scandi line and small flies.  Unfortunately, I wasn't really impressed with these rods.  That's not to say they didn't cast excellently,  but they just weren't much (if any) better than the Z.  In my opinion, if you have a Z-Axis model, there isn't much reason to upgrade.

Sage One 7136-6
One 7136-6

Although the new 7136-4's didn't impress me much, I thought this rod was cool.  Yes, you read that right.  It says 7136-6 denoting that this rod is 6 piece Spey rod.  To my knowledge, I don't think any other company has made a 6-piece Spey.  This would be an awesome travel Spey rod for the person who travels to the exotic locale.  Plus if space and length were of concern, this rod would be ideal.

New Rio Line Technology

One of the cool things about being able to test these new Spey rods was also being able to use the new line technologies that are accompanying them.  Rio really is finding the little annoyances of Spey lines and addressing them.  One of the first things I liked is that Rio's new heads will feature a small section of bright orange to identify which end attaches to the running line.  Although this sounds stupid,  I have witnessed and been guilty myself of putting a head on backwards only to find out after I couldn't make a cast.
New Rio Head Design
Another little new feature to Rio's running lines is quite impressive.  They will feature a 15ft. section of orange running line that is called the "handling portion."  This is the portion that will attach to the head and features a small taper before transitioning into the regular running line.  The reason it is called the "handling portion" is the fact that it will be a slightly larger diameter thus allowing for a better grip before shooting the line.  I test drove this new running line on the Deschutes this week and was really impressed.  For those that prefer mono running line, but hate how it grips before shooting the line, you're in luck as well!  This new handling portion will be a feature on Rio mono shooting lines as well.  Lastly, one new feature on all of Rio's product line is their Connect Core technology.  This innovation offer's a significantly less stretch core than their old lines.  Connect Core only stretches 7% whereas Rio's old cores stretched 20%.  I'm not sure whether or not this will translate to a higher hook up rate but it would make sense if it did.  It also potentially allows the angler more feel and quicker and tighter hook sets.

Redington Vapen 590-4

Although this was mostly a Spey testing day, I did get to try a few single-handers.  Much has been said about this rod already, so I'll throw in my brief two cents.  Yes, it does have a non-traditional red grip.  Does it feel good?  Yes.  Would I buy one?  Probably not.  The reason being is that a new grip really isn't a game changer for me and cork still does the trick.  Even though this rod isn't one I would add to my arsenal, kudos to Redington for thinking outside the box and innovating.  From a business standpoint, this red grip has got everyone talking and hell publicity is good for the company, regardless if you like the rod or not.

Redington Butter Stick 370-3
Butter Stick

Loved this little 3wt!  For those that aren't familiar, this is Redington's new answer to the fiberglass revival.  Like a typical glass rod, the Butter Stick is slow and floppy.  I'm not a fan of using fiberglass rods for everything, but I love taking these smaller sticks out to the little streams and tossing dries.  This rod would be perfectly suited for that!  I really was a big fan of the looks as well!


Hopefully this little review helps those looking into purchasing new products from Sage/Redington/Rio!  Just remember that this is just my opinion and especially with Spey rods it seems everyone has different tastes/preferences!

Stay fly,