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experience counts for everything We fondly refer to these guys as the A-team! T&T advisor Keith Rose-Innes and ambassadors Devan van der Merwe and Alec Gerbec collectively make up one of the most experienced and knowledgable teams in fly fishing anywhere. Hardcore professionals like these guys are testing our products to the limit every day and push us in our pursuit to build truly great rods. Their knowledge, expertise, and understanding are passed to our craftsmen, who strive for perfection and uncompromising performance in every rod we make. To us, Keith, Devan, Alec and their team of guides in the Seychelles are our unsung heroes. We salute you.
we’ve got you covered… introducing the new t&t sextant and exocett ss. remarkably light. extraordinarily strong.
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www.thomasandthomas.com HANDMADE IN AMERICA
This powerful shot of an angler preparing to release a nice mahi was the winner of Tail's inaugural #keepemwet photo contest. Photo by Daniel Goz
Redfish tail in the foreground as anglers lie in wait. This shot was one of the #keepemwet photo contest finalists. Photo by David McCleaf
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Wanted to just share this picture of my son and I out chasing Hawaiian bones! Great day on the water with my son; we went 3/3 in just a couple hours! Photo by Ray Fox and Lil' Man
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This bubble-filled albie release shot took third place in the #keepemwet photo contest. Photo by Toby Rose
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Getting ready to release a big GT to fight another day. This great shot was a finalist in the #keepemwet photo contest. Photo by Robert Dotson
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This rooster happened in large part because of my amazing boyfriend, Ben Paschal. No bait, no teaser rods! After this once-in-a-lifetime experience, we were told that “luck” is when preparation meets timing and Ben’s perfectly tied flies! He caught one shortly after I did. Photo by Ben Paschal
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Releasing a rooster caught on foot from the beach is one of the most special moments in fly fishing. Photo by Paul Moinester
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JOIN TODAY. PROTECT TOMORROW.
is a membership-based organization, and our members are our lifeblood. Since our founding in 1998, we have grown to include concerned anglers from over 20 countries, researchers from throughout the world, and guides committed to working with BTT in order to educate anglers and gather data while on the water. The generous support of our members is critical to our mission: Conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy. We have celebrated many accomplishments, but there is still much more work to do. Please help us in our mission by joining and urging your friends, guides, lodges, and fishing clubs to join. Please go to www.btt.org and click â€œJoin BTTâ€? to become a member today.
Editor-in-Chief Joseph Ballarini Creative Director Shawn Abernathy Consulting Editor Alex Lovett-Woodsum Managing Editors Rock Dawson, Arthur Lux Food Editor Kelli Prescott Publishing Consultant Samir Husni, Ph.D.
On the Cover
Captain James Johnson prepares to release a large permit.
ABOUT Tail Fly Fishing Magazine provides a voice for saltwater fly fishing culture in a bimonthly print publication. We focus on delivering the best photography, destination travel, reputable commentary and technical features from the saltwater fly fishing lifestyle. Tail began as a digital publication that debuted in September 2012 and has been in print since September 2016. In many places, fly fishing has become important to both people and the environment. As a method of fishing imbued with values of stewardship and conservation, it connects people with the marine world in significant and positive ways. Tail Fly Fishing Magazine supports creative expressions that heighten our appreciation of fly fishing and encourage us to look at it in new ways. The magazine strives to provide content that reflects our mutual fascination with all aspects of saltwater fly fishing. We are grateful for your support and we welcome photographic and written contributions. Tail Fly Fishing Magazine is published six times annually. Subscriptions are available for $48 per year. Prices vary for international subscriptions. Please contact us with any advertising, subscription or submission questions. 2300 Alton Road Miami Beach, FL 33140 WWW.TAILFLYFISHING.COM 305-763-8285
Bob Branham Pat Ford Mark Hatter Frank Paul King Ruben Martin Peter McLeod Jonathan Olch George Roberts Greg Thomas
Creative Contributors Shawn Abernathy Drew Chicone Blane Chocklett Joe Dahut Rock Dawson Tom Pero Rick Pope Kelli Prescott George Roberts Kyle Schaefer Connor Tapscott
Photography Shawn Abernathy John Carpenter Drew Chicone Joe Dahut Rock Dawson Robert Dotson Daniel Goz Ray Fox David McCleaf Paul Moinester Ben Paschal Tom Pero Rick Pope Kelli Prescott Toby Rose Keith Rose-Innes Connor Tapscott Mark White
To the thousands of anglers who put their trust in our reels, and our reels in their hands [ day after day and year after year ], WE THANK YOU!
I N LOV I N G M E M O RY O F J O HN C . MEL FI
Inside the Box by Blane Chocklett
Remembering a Legend: Left Kreh by Tom Pero and Rick Pope
Shooting Heads by George Roberts
The Plastic Plague by Kyle Schaefer
False Albacore by Connor Tapscott
Thomas & Thomas by Staff Writers
Tapped: Beer Reviews
On the Plate by Kelli Prescott
Fly Tying: Contraband Crab by Drew Chicone
Heavyweights of Jamaica Bay by Joe Dahut
An Angler Opines by Rock Dawson
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No rod has ever silenced all the variables. No engineer has ever found a way to transfer back cast energy directly into forward accuracy. No angler has ever erased all the doubt from his or her mind. FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING.
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G E T TA I L AT T H E S E R E TA I L E R S 18 TA I L FLY F I S H I N G M AGA Z I NE
Mossy’s Fly Shop 750 W Diamond Blvd Suite 114 Anchorage AK 99515
Jimmy’s All Season Angler 275 A Street Idaho Falls ID 83402
Sportsman Finest 12434 Bee Cave Road Austin TX 78738
Front Range Anglers 2344 Pearl Street Boulder CO 80302
Old Towne Fly Shop & Outfitters 4009 Pontchartrain Drive Slidell LA 70458
Swan Point Landing 1723 Cherry Street Suite 4 Rockport TX 78382
The Compleat Angler 541 Boston Post Road Darien CT 06820
Alltackle 2062 Somerville Rd Annapolis, MD 21401
Tailwaters Fly Fishing 1933 E. Levee St Dallas TX 75207
Beaver Creek Fly Shop 9720 Country Store Lane Hagerstown MD 21740
Fishwest 47 West 10600 South Sandy UT 84070
Black Fly Outfitters 11702 Beach Blvd #109 Jacksonville FL 32246
The Bear's Den 34 Robert W Boyden Rd Taunton MA 02780
Fly South Fly Shop 115 19th Ave South Nashville TN 37203
Bill Jacksons’s Shop for Adventure 9501 US 19 N Pinellas Park FL 33782
Frontier Anglers 680 N. Montana St Dillion MT 59725
Emerald Water Anglers 4502 42nd Ave SW Seattle WA 98116
Gig Harbor Fly Shop 3115 Harborview Drive Gig Harbor WA 98335
Apalach Outfitters 32 Ave D Apalachicola FL 32320
Forgotten Coast Fly Company 123 Commerce Street Apalachicola FL 32320 Florida Keys Outfitters 81219 Overseas Highway Islamorada FL 33036
Madison River Fly Fishing Outfitters 20910 Torrence Chapel Rd D5 Cornelius NC 28031
Flounder Creek Outfitters 515 Garden Street Titusville FL 32796
Harry Goode’s Outdoor Sports 1231 E New Haven Ave Melbourne FL 32901
Urban Angler 381 Fifth Ave, 2nd Floor New York NY 10016 RHODE ISLAND
Ole Florida Fly Shop 6353 N Federal Hwy Boca Raton FL 33487
The Saltwater Edge 1037 Aquioneck Ave Middletown RI 02842
Orlando Outfitters 2814 Corrine Dr Orlando FL 32803
The Angling Company 333 Simonton St Key West FL 33040 West Wall Outfitters 787 Tamiami Port Charlotte FL 33953 GEORGIA Blue Ridge Fly Fishing 490 E Main Street Blue Ridge GA 30513 The Fish Hawk 764 Miami Cir NE #126 Atlanta GA 30305
Bay Street Outfitters 825 Bay Street Beaufort SC 29902 Charleston Angler 654 Saint Andrews Blvd Charleston SC 29407 Charleston Angler 1113 Market Center Blvd Mt Pleasant SC 29464 TEXAS Bayou City Angler 3641 Westheimer Rd Suite A Houston TX 77027
Gordy & Sons 22 Waugh Drive Houston TX 77007
The Avid Angler 17171 Bothell Way NE Seattle WA 98155 CANADA County Pleasures 100, 10816 Macleod Tr. S. Calgary AB T2J 5N8 Canada Fish Tales Fly Shop Ltd. #626, 12100 Macleod Trail SE Calgary AB T2J 7G9 Canada Outdoor Pros 22 Sagona Avenue Mount Pearl, NL A1N R42 Cananada Bass Pro Shops over 80 locations in the USA Dick's Sporting Goods over 86 locations in the USA Field & Stream Stores over 25 locations in the USA
Shot by: Jarrod Black - Pictured: Tim Rajeff
When things heat up, itâ€™s critical to fish the line designed for the job. Airflo uses a patented Polyurethane material and silent running ridges designed to optimize fishing in all tropical environments. TAIL FLY M AGA ZI NE 1 9 Go to airflousa.com to find the line that helps coolFISHI youNGoff.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR There is a timeless saying in the medical field about learning as you go that is passed on from generation to generation: See one, do one, teach one. This does not necessarily hold true within the fly fishing community. Those of us lucky enough to fish with guides, especially some of the greats in the industry, can appreciate my sentiment. There is an art to being a guide and it is not solely about catching fish: it is about the entire experience from pick up to drop off and every moment in between. Guiding is an industry that was truly born out of necessity. Most anglers do not have the luxury of studying a fishery for days or weeks before trying their hand. They usually fly or drive in, fish for a few days, and fly or drive home. Picking the right person to make that particular experience a productive one is essential. If you have ever fished with a quality professional guide either on foot on on a skiff, you know exactly what I speak of: the knowledge and in-depth understanding that a good guide has of their fishery is remarkable. I look back at many of the days I spent fishing on my own, exploring new territory and realize how much time I wasted. Any day on the water is a treasure, but if I take an actual accounting of the number of hours spent guided vs nonguided and the numbers of fish caught, the difference is striking. Early on I kept a fish diary which detailed where I
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fished, when and who with. I collected all the data regarding moon phase, tide and conditions. I must be somewhat cursed because rarely were there days on the water that it was blowing less than 15 knots. Somehow through the array of conditions and tides, one theme prevailed: I almost always caught more fish and higherquality fish with a guide. That really pissed me off. I pride myself on knowing a fishery, my fly selection is always top notch and I’ve learned to overcome poor weather conditions, so why am I never as successful as when I am guided? Ultimately, there’s a lot more to it than just jumping on the skiff and knowing where the fish are. When you fish with those at the top of their game, their boats are always clean and ready, the ride is always comfortable and there’s a certain relaxed feel to the day because you know that you are in capable hands. That means you can spend your time enjoying the scenery, sipping on a coffee or munching snacks while waiting to arrive at the first spot. There is no pressure until you step up to the casting platform to make a cast. You don’t have to prepare a skiff, or worry about gear or terminal tackle or flies. It’s all taken care of for you. The right guide knows where to be and when, and can talk you through every aspect of presenting a fly and fighting a fish. For as many days over the last decade that I have fished Biscayne Bay, I still admit that the only double digit bonefish I’ve caught in the bay was on the skiff of Captain Bob Branham. I caught a nice permit on my last outing with him as well. Perhaps his 35 years of experience have something to do with it. And it’s a good reminder that guides all over—especially in places still affected by last year’s hurricanes—are eager for our business, and are well worth the investment. About Issue 36…this issue was difficult to assemble, as we were all saddened by the loss of fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh, and will most definitely miss him at ICAST this summer. We tried to compile an issue that Lefty would have been proud of. Stripers in Jamaica Bay, False Albies in the Carolinas, Drew Chicone’s awardwinning Contraband Crab pattern, a glimpse into the shop of one of the finest rod makers in the world, shooting heads for saltwater, and some very thoughtful words from some of the people closest to Lefty. We hope you enjoy it.
Joseph Ballarini Editor-in-Chief
Introducing a new edition of Tarpon Head Bookends. Each sculpture is 16”x 9”x 6” and will initially sell for $2850 or $4500 a pair. A new smaller Desktop version will initially sell for $975.
Fishpond Encampment Lumbar Sized for a couple of fly boxes and all your accessories, yet with enough support for heavier loads, the Fishpond Encampment Lumbar is constructed of recycled commercial fishing net material and outfitted with water-resistant zippers, cord loops for securing yet more gizmos, and nifty zippered pockets along the lumbar straps for quick access to the little stuff. This is a great fresh or saltwater wading pack.
Costa Sunglasses Untangled Collection Costa is taking fishing nets that are at the end of their lives and recycling them into polarized glasses. Costa has long been a reliable, go-to brand for great fishing sunglasses as well as a leader in the recycling and #kickplastic movement, and the Untangled Collection reflects their commitment to both.
Flyvines Eyewear Retainer
Before your next purchase, consider these companies and products that use recycled materials. It's a great way to give back to our planet while getting some great gear in the process.
FishMasks are neck tubes that keep the sun off while fishing, hiking or anything else outdoors. They are 100% made in the USA and made of recycled plastic bottles. They also have UPF 50 to keep you protected in the sun, and are comfortable and breathable for long, hot days on the water.
Recover Brand Clothing
Recover makes 100% recycled apparel from plastic water bottles and garment industry fabric scraps. One shirt takes about eight plastic water bottles to produce, and the resulting product is great-looking and remarkably soft and comfortable. They make menâ€™s, womenâ€™s and youth clothing - everything from t-shirts to socks to hoodies. This is truly a brand you can feel good about buying.
Eyewear retainers are a must to keep your glasses safe on the water, and Flyvines partnered with Chums to bring you these colorful and durable eyewear retainers made from recycled fly lines.
Bureo Fishnet Flyer Frisbee For those days you have the boat loaded up to hang out on the sandbar with friends and family, the Bureo Flyer Frisbee is the perfect toy to bring along for an outing. Made from recycled fishing nets, it is not only a super responsible buy but also a fun accessory for any trip into the great outdoors.
SomiSmart Recycled Hammock Whether you are looking for a place to set up camp for the night or just setting up for a midday siesta, the SomiSmart recycled hammock is a responsible buy. Made from recycled plastic, this packable hammock can go just about anywhere you go.
Adidas Terrex Climacool Boat Parley Shoes Adidas teamed up with Parley to create an outdoor boat shoe that is made from recycled ocean plastic as well as plastic found on beaches. Plus, they actually look good and are great for protecting feet from sunburn and helping you maintain your footing when youâ€™re bobbing around on the prowl for big oceanside tarpon.
Outerknown Evolution Volley Moss Shorts Outerknown took recycled fishing nets and turned them into a great pair of shorts. These shorts are perfect both on and off the water. Plus, knowing that they are made from recycled fishing nets will make you feel even better about wearing them.
Loll Designs Tall Lounge Chair Loll designs and manufactures durable outdoor furniture made mostly from recycled milk jugs. The modern take on classic outdoor furniture will add some cool factor to your home, and the bonus is knowing that it is all responsibly made right here in the USA.
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INSIDE For the past 30 years, Blane Chocklett has lived his passion in fly fishing. He grew up fishing the small mountain streams in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, starting a guide service as a youngster. In 1996, Blane opened Blue Ridge Fly Fishers in Roanoke, Virginia. One of the most enthusiastic and cutting-edge fly tiers in our sport, many of Blane’s inventive fly patterns are produced through Umpqua Feather Merchants. He has served on the board of the American Fly Tackle Trade Association (AFFTA) and has worked as a consultant/ ambassador to several fly fishing companies that you probably know. Since 1998, Blane has served as a fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Through his Hybrid Series™ and other innovative designs, Blane crafts traditional and synthetic tying materials to achieve the subtleness of flies and the strike-generating action of conventional lures. Blane's articulated fly The Game Changer has gained popularity among saltwater anglers for blue water species like tuna, mahi-mahi and sailfish and inshore for believe it or not, tarpon.
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T H E BOX BLANE CHOCKLETT
Tens of thousands have signed. Add your name today and stand up for the future of Floridaâ€™s water.
Rick DePaiva ph
Friends of Bernard "Lefty" Kreh share their stories about the legendary life of the most influential fly angler the sport has ever seen.
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Goodbye, Mr. Kreh by Tom Pero In 1932, when he was six, his father died. He had two younger brothers and a sister; he was the eldest. For 50 years the memory of his father’s coffin being lowered into the ground to the mournful dirge of taps would haunt him. His mother was forced to move her family to the poor side of Frederick, Maryland, to the black ghetto, into a run-down house, often without chunks of coal for heat in winter, and a frigid outhouse in back. He was cruelly taunted by gangs of other children when he wheeled a cart home with sacks of flour and fatback stamped WELFARE. Lefty Kreh died on March 14, 2018. He was 93. From catfish skinner and muskrat trapper, to frostbitten artilleryman who survived the Battle of the Bulge, Bernard Victor Kreh made himself into one of the most widely read fishing authors and warmly embraced fly-casting instructors of the 20th century. He was the sport’s raconteur at the height of its popularity. Kreh followed in nearly the identical footsteps of Joe Brooks, who was a generation older, starting at the small newspaper in Towson, Maryland, called The Country, where Brooks had started, and years later moving south to replace Brooks as manager of the important Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament. By 1947, Brooks—a jailed alcoholic pugilist in his Baltimore youth—had become a regionally known outdoor sporting writer, passionately devoted to teaching kids to enjoy and respect field, stream and sea. Brooks had heard about a hotshot young bass-plugger named Lefty Kreh, and imagined the ex-G.I. might be good copy for his column called “Pools & Riffles.”
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Young Lefty drove up to the banks of the Potomac River at Harper’s Ferry in his Model-A with a canoe strapped to the roof. He took a look at Brooks’s bamboo fly rod and offered to let Joe use one of his casting rods. Brooks politely said he’d stick with his fly rod, and proceeded to catch nearly as many smallmouths on a Black Ghost streamer as Lefty caught on the deadly lures in which he had such confidence. When they sat on a shale-rock ledge having lunch, and the fish started gulping flying ants, the older man changed flies and began casting, hooking one after another. The next day, with Brooks at his side advising, Kreh plunked down his hard-earned $18 at Tochterman’s Sporting Goods in Baltimore for a South Bend fiberglass fly rod, balancing reel and line. Across the street in Herring Run Park, Joe Brooks gave Lefty Kreh his first casting lesson. The beat-up Pflueger Medalist is still sitting in the basement tackle room of the house in Hunt Valley, Maryland, where Kreh lived with his wife Evelyn for many years, and where he died of heart failure this past spring. From 1964 to 1972, readers of the Miami Herald picked up their morning paper to read what Lefty Kreh had to say about fishing and the outdoor life in Florida. From December through April, from his office at the Herald, Lefty ran the MET, the world’s largest fishing tournament. Anyone could participate—and each year hundreds of thousands of anglers from all over the world did. Lefty’s essential function was to certify the weights of fish entered and verify the breaking strength of the lines that boated or beached them. Here Kreh made an ever-lasting contribution to sport-fish records that, in my opinion, receives scant—and not nearly enough— recognition. He convinced the Herald to allow him to test knots with a new $5,000 tensile tester that the newspaper had installed to monitor the delicate equilibrium of the two-ton rolls of newsprint thundering through the high-speed presses. He tied 90 blood knots and tested 30 immediately. Then he waited a month and tested 30 more: would they hold up? Lefty was smart and he was practical. Monofilament fishing knots had never before been tested so systematically and with such precision. He was Joe Garagiola without the catcher’s mask in appearance, Don Rickles with the one-liners sans the sarcasm. He once told lanky Florida Keys fishing guide Rick Ruoff, who towered over him, when Ruoff kidded him about being the Ted Williams of fly fishing: “That the best you can do?” And: “Rick’s Christmas Island wife is so ugly even the tide wouldn’t take her out.”
When billionaire Perry Bass, heir to the Texas wildcatting oil fortune, was told that Lefty was the man to teach him to fly cast, Bass decided to send his Gulfstream to deliver Lefty in person for a private lesson. (Isn’t that how we all learned?) The phone rang in the Krehs’ modest Maryland home; Lefty picked up. “Mr. Kreh?” intoned one of the rich Texan’s numerous personal assistants. “I have Mr. Bass on the line.” Without skipping a beat and having no idea who was calling, Lefty replied, “smallmouth or largemouth?” A decade ago, when Andy Mill and I interviewed Kreh for Andy’s masterpiece-in-the-making, A Passion for Tarpon, Lefty, still, all those years later, would not miss an opportunity to tip his ubiquitous khaki flats hat (did he sleep in it?) to his beloved mentor, Joe Brooks. There are two kinds of writers and teachers, he told us: “There are people who display knowledge and there are people who share knowledge—and there is a big difference.” Thank you, Bernard “Lefty” Kreh, for sharing.
The author is publisher of Wild River Press, home to many books of keen interest to flats anglers, including A Passion for Tarpon by Andy Mill, A Passion for Permit by Jonathan Olch, and the new Top Saltwater Flies by Drew Chicone: www. wildriverpress.com
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Lefty by Rick Pope & Frank Paul King I met Lefty Kreh back in the mid-80s on a hosted trip to Turneffe Island in Belize to learn more about bonefish and fly fishing in saltwater. Flip Pallot and Mark Sosin joined us for the absolute worst bonefishing trip ever, but one that I’ll never forget. I met Flip Pallot first as Lefty suggested Flip as a guide on my first trip to Florida in the early ‘80s. Like all who met Lefty, he was and has been a friend ever since. A career change and my entry into the fishing business in 1995 meant that I would see much more of Lefty and, like all of us, I clung to every piece of fishing advice that he so generously dispensed. He honored me with acclaim for TFO’s entry into rods that were “affordable” – as he lived a frugal life and he believed affordability would allow more folks to enjoy the sport. Our friendship grew along with opportunities to spend time together at various fly fishing events around the country. Lefty’s personality, people skills, humility and candor began to impress me even more than his casting. His interest in TFO’s affordable concept also grew and ultimately, I decided to write him a letter and beg him to join us and help design our rods. That was in late 2002. Unfortunately, he suffered a “minor” stroke just before Thanksgiving so I delayed my pitch. Then between Christmas and New Year’s Day, he suffered his first heart attack – I didn’t
want to add to his stress so again, I delayed. I got a report in mid-January from the Denver ISE show where Lefty performed that he was in fine form. He even shared with everyone the story of both the stroke and heart attack. I sent the letter. He replied with a phone call “I can’t say yes but I’m not ready to say no. Can we talk about this for a while?” What was essentially an interview with Lefty lasted almost a month and consisted of much more than rod design and concept discussions. Life stories, family, relationships and business philosophy dominated the many conversations we had, and not one mention of money was made. He called me in late February and confirmed that he made the decision to leave his rod company of 20 years and wanted to help us with rod design. A press release was written February 25, 2003–the day before his 78th birthday–and in that moment, TFO’s business world changed dramatically. By that point, we had established a good consumer following– although many dealers and certain rod companies threw stones at us for being Korean-made and “too cheap.” I even had advice, or a threat, from one dealer that we needed to raise our prices because the rods were too good for their price. Even more upsetting were the complaints levied against Lefty for working with a cheap rod importer. Our exclusive Korean factory was (and still is) owned by a brilliant engineer who both Lefty and Gary Loomis claimed is one of the best they’ve ever worked with. With the benefit of hindsight, splitting design from engineering proved to be very beneficial. Lefty could see transition issues in a rod by analyzing loop and shockwave issues in the fly line. He could quite accurately predict where within the blank such issues existed–and how much line weight or fly resistance caused them to appear. To this day, I’ve never seen another with such an intuitive understanding of rod dynamics.
Our incredible family of Advisory Staff members–four of whom are in the IGFA Hall of Fame–have ideas and solutions to enhance rod performance and fishing enjoyment. Lefty always enjoyed the group discussions, whether small or all inclusive. From talking knots with Cliff Pace and Larry Dahlberg to rod design with Flip Pallot and Gary Loomis to casting with Ed Jaworowski, he learned, taught and made us all better people. Ed, as one of his closest friends, convinced him to join us on an epic three year production of The Complete Cast DVD set, and watching its evolution remains one of my life’s highlights. He loved women and always seemed to pick one out of the crowd when on stage, claiming he could “teach any woman he wasn’t going with or married to” how to fly cast, unlike “hard-headed guys who don’t listen well.” Lefty even coached a Catholic girls basketball team for a while after his return from WWII. He always claimed, however, that his greatest catch was Evelyn–his wife and best friend for 65 years. Ev Kreh passed away November 25th, 2011 after several years of declining health that caused Lefty to limit the length of his travels so he wouldn’t be away from her for more than two nights. With her passing, he came to Dallas the following weekend for an event with our major dealer and we met a couple with a lodge on Ascension Bay that offered great permit fishing. We booked for the Spring of 2012 and I caught my first (and only) two permit the same day with Lefty as my boat partner. After that, we always kept a couple of trips planned and enjoyed many until his declining health and stamina began to slow him down. His first trip to Dallas was in March of 2003 and involved three days of evaluating every rod we had while we took detailed notes on action, performance, power and finish out. Changes and modifications were made while he took over the design of our prototype TICR series until, after six different 8-weight prototypes, we were able to introduce the family at IFTD in September of that year. Lefty proved to be more than the “Pied Piper” with consumers following him. He would call and ask “Do you know Ed Jaworowski…then Nick Curcione, then Bob Clouser, Jake Jordan and Flip Pallot? They might be interested in working with us and each has excellent insight into rod design.” Through the 15 years and one month Lefty worked with us, we prototyped over 2,000 rods and he gladly accepted final responsibility for every one we introduced. We became a true family, with epic sales meetings, dinners, stories and jokes–all because of Lefty.
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Over the past few years, I came to realize that Lefty was much more than one of the best fly casters, teachers and rod designers in the world. His humility, people skills, passion and insights proved to be incredibly valuable to me and all who were fortunate enough to know him well. I regret that I never begged him to write the Lessons on Life book. I was blessed to work with him for the past 15 years and I pledge that his teachings on life will eternally remain part of our corporate ethic as his rod design influence will continue to exist in every TFO rod we make. May he rest in peace. BIO: Rick Pope and Frank Paul King operate Temple Fork Outfitters and had a a very special relationship with Lefty over almost two decades. We are honored to remember Lefty with you. Thank you both
by George Roberts Arguably the most confusing subject related to fly fishing gear is the topic of fly lines. Today we have a mindboggling plethora of fly lines from which to choose. There are specialty lines for various fish species, specialty lines for various types of flies, specialty lines for styles of casting, specialty lines for water temperature, and on and on. With the literally thousands of fly lines on the market today, it’s difficult for experienced fly anglers to select the right fly line for their needs—to say nothing of the novice. One particular fly line configuration that has seen a resurgence in popularity in the last few years is the shooting head or shooting taper. Although there was a time when I was fairly dismissive of shooting heads—I viewed them as a crutch for those hoping to achieve real distance— experience has forced me to reconsider their utility for fly anglers in fresh water as well as salt. In this article we'll take a look at what a shooting head is, the types of angling situations it might be good for, and how you can best make it perform. Construction A shooting head is basically a radicalized version of a weight-forward fly line. In its simplest terms, it's a fairly short, compact head backed by a very thin shooting line (called a running line on a conventional weight-forward fly line). Traditionally the shooting head and shooting line were two
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separate entities joined together via a loop-to-loop connection. A number of companies still manufacture detachable shooting heads, though a number of modern shooting heads (such as Cortland's Compact series of lines or Airflo’s Beach series) are produced as a single integrated unit. In the two-part system, the shooting line can be a thin-diameter level fly line, braided nylon monofilament, or single-strand monofilament. The head can either be floating, intermediate, or sinking—or a combination thereof. To give you an idea how shooting heads compare to conventional weight-forward tapers, the head of Royal Wulff's 8-weight Triangle Taper fly line is 43 feet long, while their 8-weight Ambush (which is a radicalized version of the triangle taper, produced both as an integrated unit as well as a detachable shooting head) is a mere 20 feet. Despite its much shorter length, the weight of the Ambush head is 290 grains. This approximates the total weight package of the 8-weight Triangle Taper (that is, the tip of the fly line to the end of the rear taper). As more fly line manufacturers are beginning to list the weight (in grains) of their fly lines' heads, you'll do well to note the weight ranges that work well with your particular rod. Also be aware that some rod companies are now designing rods to better handle these compact shooting heads. For example, at this writing the Thomas & Thomas Exocett SS comes in two models—the 250 and 350, whose numbers designate the line weight (in grains) you should match to the rod. Keep in mind that these are suggestions. Any fly rod should perform well with a range of fly line weights, so if your fly line is a bit above or below the manufacturer’s recommendations, don’t worry about it. Regardless of the length of the head or the AFTMA weight designation (which has very little meaning anymore), choose a fly line whose weight, in grains, complements the rod and performs as you desire on the water. The following chart, adapted from the Royal Wulff website, serves as a good general guideline when matching a shooting head to your saltwater rod. The shooting line on an integrated shooting head tends to be thinner and lighter than the running line found on conventional weight-forward fly lines. The reduced weight and friction will allow you to shoot more line on any given cast for a longer delivery. Pros, Cons, and Caveats As with any specialized fly line, shooting heads have their advantages and disadvantages. Matching a fly line's strengths to your needs will allow you to optimize your performance on the water. Among its advantages, a shooting head will give you more distance with less effort. As a casting instructor, I hesitate to tell you that a piece of equipment will give you a longer cast, and I’m not suggesting that a shooting head is a replacement for refining your casting stroke. However, if your long cast
Rod Weight (AFTMA Rating)
Shooting Head Weight in Grains
with a conventional weight-forward taper is in the 40- to 50-foot range, you should notice a significant increase in distance with a shooting head. The increased weight package of the head coupled with a thinner, lighter shooting line will make all casts longer—to a point. The more compact shooting head allows you to make your long cast with less line outside the rod tip. This is of particular value for the beginning to intermediate caster, who may have difficulty carrying a 40-plus-foot head as is typical of a conventional weight-forward line. To give an example, at a seminar I conducted last spring there was a female student whose casting stroke had a number of issues. She never would have been able to carry the 40-foot head of a conventional line. I handed her my 8-weight outfit, spooled with a 20-foot, 290-grain floating shooting head looped to a thin-diameter level shooting line. I instructed her to get the head section just outside the rod tip, make a couple of false casts, and then let it fly. I’d be lying if I said the cast was pretty, but it was eminently functional. She delivered the yarn fly 50 feet without a haul—a distance she could not have achieved with a conventional weight-forward fly line. A shorter head makes for a quicker delivery—that is, fewer false casts. This could mean the difference between success and failure if you have to intercept a moving target. At the very least, fewer false casts translates to less time your fly is in the air and more time it's in the water. A shorter head requires less back cast space. This would be particularly useful if you were fishing from a steeply sloped bank or shoreline. When wading, the amount your back cast is able to drop during the forward stroke due to gravity gets reduced, increasing your chances of ticking the water. In such a situation a shorter head has a decided advantage. The compact weight package of a shooting head can be useful for turning over larger flies and may help you to more successfully buck the wind. Using a single shooting line with separate shooting heads in floating, intermediate, and sinking allows for a quick change and gives you a lot of versatility to address a variety of conditions. In short, it allows you to fish the entire water column without having to carry multiple reels or multiple
spools or having to change out entire fly lines as conditions demand. Some companies market shooting head wallets that allow you to carry several heads and tips; these take up little space in your gear bag or on your person. On the downside, the shorter head is less stable in flight than a longer taper. It's easier to flub a cast—particularly if you overpower it. Also, the more compact head tends to make a less delicate presentation and is probably not the best choice when fishing for spooky game (e.g., tailing bonefish). You may find that the thinner shooting line tends to tangle more than the running line of a conventional weight-forward taper (though stretching your shooting line from time to time while on the water may help minimize this). A final caveat: Because they were originally developed by tournament distance casters, shooting heads are often associated with ultimate deliveries in excess of 120 feet. Keep in mind that tournament shooting heads exceed 50 feet in length. Shooting heads intended for fishing—20 to 30-plus feet in length—are simply not designed for extreme distance. As soon as the head unrolls completely on the delivery, the shoot is over and the cast is finished. In terms of sheer distance, there's no way a 20-foot head can compete with a 50-foot head—regardless of the caster's ability. So rather than trying to cast into the backing, use the shooting head to make your functional long fishing cast—60 to 70 feet—with minimal effort. Finding the Sweet Spot Some fly anglers talk about the "sweet spot" in their fly line—that perfect amount of carry with which they can make a long and flawless delivery. Some talk about this as if it's a mystical thing that happens only occasionally by chance. When you understand how a long cast works you'll be able to find the sweet spot instantly on any fly line, including shooting heads, making your long casts much more consistent. To make a long cast with any fly line you need to have the entire head, along with a couple to a few feet of shooting line or running line, outside the rod tip before you make your delivery. The amount of shooting line between the rod tip and the rear end of the shooting head is called overhang. If you try to overhang too much shooting line on
your delivery your cast will fall apart, as you're requiring a very thin shooting line to turn over a very thick shooting head. It's simply an inefficient transfer of energy. Such collapse is more pronounced with shooting heads than it is with conventional weight-forward lines—but the same holds true for both. In most situations two or three feet of overhang should be ideal to make your long cast.
knot will shoot unimpeded through the guides.
With a loop-to-loop shooting head system it's obvious when the entire head is outside the rod tip. An integrated shooting head is not always so obvious. Some integrated shooting heads differentiate the head from the shooting line by using a different color. For example, the Wulff Ambush fly lines sport a bright green head and a blue shooting line. Simply get the green section a couple of feet outside your rod tip and you'll be positioned to make your delivery. However, I’ve seen integrated shooting heads whose colors contrast poorly, making it difficult to differentiate the head from the running line. Still others are produced as a solid color.
I suggest you get used to your shooting head by making your first several dozen casts without hauling. The shooting head’s compact weight package will make your rod feel significantly over-lined—clunky, even. Slow down your stroke and get connected to this extra weight as it pulls your rod into a bend on both the back cast and forward cast. As I mentioned previously, to make your long cast, get the shooting head just outside the rod tip before making your delivery. Again, the ideal amount of shooting line to overhang for any cast is two to three feet.
If the manufacturer doesn’t clearly identify the head section you can mark it for yourself. Use a dial caliper to take diameter readings along the shooting line forward toward the head, and note the point at which the line becomes measurably thicker. Then use a Sharpie laundry marker to blacken the circumference of the shooting line for five or six inches back from this. To make your long cast, simply get this black bar just outside your rod tip before you make your delivery. If you fish at night you can still find the sweet spot by equipping your integrated shooting head with a tactile mark. Simply locate the point at which you hold the running line when you're positioned to make your long delivery (again, the entire head is two or three feet outside the rod tip). Use a small coffee stirrer or other tool to tie a nail knot around the circumference of the shooting line using 5 or 6-pound monofilament. Trim the ends of the knot close. This will allow you to locate the ideal amount of carry even in the dead of night, and the monofilament
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You can use these marking systems to denote the head section on conventional weight-forward lines as well. Casting Tips Because of their more compact configuration, shooting heads can take a bit of getting used to. With practice, however, you'll be making your long deliveries with less effort than you thought possible.
When you're comfortable making long deliveries without hauling you can try adding the double haul. Once again, use your haul not to try to launch your cast into the next postal code; use it instead to deliver the cast with less effort. No part of the taper should come inside the rod tip on your haul. Should you try to make your delivery with any part of the shooting head still inside the rod tip, this will impede your shoot or even kill the cast completely. With a loop-to-loop shooting head system you’ll feel it if you bring the loops inside the rod tip on the haul. For an integrated shooting head, use the built-in color change that denotes the shooting line, or use the mark you put in the line with a laundry marker, to keep the head outside the rod tip. Practice by making several false casts and hauls, and when you feel you have good command of the casting sequence, make your delivery. (To see an instructional video on casting shooting heads, visit my website, the URL to which is listed in the bio.) Although it's not a fly line for all occasions, depending on your needs and situation, a shooting head might fill a niche in your game and might be a tool worth adding to your fly fishing arsenal. Bio: A fly casting instructor for 25 years, George Roberts produced the first video fly casting program devoted exclusively to salt water: Saltwater Fly Casting: 10 Steps to Distance and Power. He’s also the author of Master the Cast: Fly Casting in Seven Lessons (McGraw-Hill, 2002). For more information on fly casting and fly angling you can visit George’s website: masterthecast.com
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THE PLASTIC PLAGUE by Kyle Schaefer
As fly anglers, we are some of the luckiest people on the planet. We have a great privilege that allows us to access the most wild and untamed environments. We get a front row seat to the beauty of this delicate world. Fly fishing has become synonymous with conservation, environmental protection, and stewardship, which is an honor for anglers to take part in but comes with a great responsibility. As caretakers of this world we have the opportunity to lessen our impact every day as we continue to learn how our habits affect the world around us. Plastics are silently taking over our oceans and waterways. Our current trajectory supports a staggering projection: there could be more pounds of plastic in our waters than fish by the year 2050. Single-use plastics are consumed every day with the major culprits including plastic bags, single-use water bottles, togo containers, takeaway cups and straws (5gyres.org). As consumers, we have the power to make changes that protect our waters and the marine life that depend on the standards we are setting for ourselves. These changes only require a little education, a small shift in thinking and, of course, action to back it up.
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he anatomy of our plastic problem is as complex as it is simple: we use far too many single-use plastics. Eight million metric tons enter the ocean every year (5gyres.org). You may be thinking “well, I recycle,” but the truth is less than 30 percent of plastic single-use water bottles are actually processed in the recycling system (A Recycling Revolution, “Recycling Facts” ARR). These wasted plastics enter our waters, begin to break down into smaller pieces, and act as sponges for toxic chemicals that have accumulated in the environment. A single microbead of plastic is a magnet for pollutants, and can be one million times more toxic than the water around it (5gyres.org). The compounding toxicity levels of our plastic trash can have big implications as they invade the food chain. They show up in fish markets and end up in our bodies. “Microplastics have been found in mussels wherever scientists have looked,” says Amy Lusher, a NIVA researcher. Lia Colabello, Costa Sunglasses Kick Plastic Cause Ambassador, informs us that a single plate of mussels can contain up to 90 pieces of microplastic. Plastic is an amazing material but it never truly biodegrades, so why are we utilizing it in so many single-use applications? The answer comes down to economics: it’s cheap for corporations to package
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Clockwise from the top: 1. The areas in white show large consentrations of oceanic plastics in the world's waters. 2. Even something as simple as a metal water bottle can help eliminate hundreds of plastic bottles a year.
Eight million metric tons of single-use plastics enter the ocean every year. in plastic and profits soar as a result. Our environment is paying dearly for the decisions we are making. It’s not all bad news though; we can kick plastic and take back our oceans by making some small changes in our daily habits and being more aware of what we consume and throw away.
3. Sea turtles often mistake a floating bottle for food. You can easily see the bite marks. Injesting the plastic can often be fatal for sea turtles. 4. The stomach contents of this mahi proves that this is a serious problem.
Americans use three million plastic water bottles every hour of every day (5gyres.org), so let’s start here. Fishing guides all over the world have relied on plastic water bottles to keep clients hydrated and happy while on the water. Typically you’ll find a cooler stocked with single-use bottles, so let's track that plastic across the guide season. Let’s say a guide spends 150 days on the water with an average of two clients. This single operation has the potential of producing 1,800 or more plastic waste bottles every year. When you magnify this footprint across the worldwide guiding community it’s easy to understand how big the impact is. The barriers have never been so low to incorporate reusable water bottles into every guide’s routine. Through its Kick Plastic Guide and Outfitter Program, Costa has rallied companies like YETI and Klean Kanteen to provide guides with the tools to NEVER purchase a plastic water bottle again. It just takes a shift in thinking and a small initial investment to switch to reusable bottles. Nick Colas estimates that consumers are buying bottled water for 2,000 times the cost of tap water. Over a single season, guides could be saving hundreds of dollars by switching to reusable water bottles while protecting their fisheries as a result. Guides are in the perfect position to inspire progress on this issue. As role models in the fishing community, they have a vested interest in the resource and have the power to influence change. We are at a crossroads and our choice is clear. We must reduce our plastic intake if we want healthy waterways and oceans throughout the world.
Americans use three million plastic water bottles every hour of every day.
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In 2016, Costa helped facilitate the removal of plastic water bottles from the largest guiding operation in the U.S., WorldCast Anglers in Jackson Hole, WY. The successful elimination of plastic water bottles across the 43-person guiding staff has a huge impact and sets an important precedent. If WorldCast can do it, we all can. David Mangum of Shallow Water Expeditions is making the change as well, “a simple shift in thinking is helping to protect our oceans and save costs along the way… it’s a win-win.” Costa Sunglasses has been a major advocate for the issue and has invested a lot of energy into their #kickplastic initiative. Costa has set a goal to kick plastic in every guide operation in North America by 2026. Let’s join the fight to take back our waterways and oceans. The fish deserve a plastic-free ocean, and so do our grandchildren.
What action can we take? REDUCE Purchase a reusable bottle for coffee, water, etc., and keep it close by. INFORM Talk to your friends and family and become an influencer on this issue.
AWARENESS Continue to be aware of the single-use plastic you consume every day. CHOOSE Spend your dollars wisely. Place a higher value on the environment than short-term conveniences and look for products made from recycled materials like those in this issue's gear guide (page 22).
ACT Support responsible brands and check out the plastic-free shopping guide: www.5gyres. org/plastic-freeshopping-guide/
Costa has continued their mission by looking at their own footprint. They are analyzing everything from packaging to manufacturing materials and taking the right steps to mitigate their own impact. Recently, Costa teamed up with Oliver White to help eliminate plastic water bottles from Abaco Lodge and Bair’s Lodge in the Bahamas. Oliver said, “it was a no-brainer to participate in the Kick Plastic Campaign with Costa.” Ultimately, Oliver is saving money while protecting the environments we all hope to preserve and fish from one generation to the next. Bringing awareness to this issue is the first step. Look around the grocery store, your coffee shop or any retail environment, and just notice the epidemic of singleuse plastics that surrounds you. These plastics may end up in the ocean and negatively affect our waters for countless years to come.
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Sources Matthew Boesler, “Bottled Water Costs 2000 Times as Much as Tap Water” Business Insider 5gyres.org Lia Colabello, Costa Sunglasses www.kickplastic.org A Recycling Revolution, “Recycling Facts” ARR8
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FALSE ALBACORE by Connor Tapscott
was late when I crossed the short, narrow bridge traversing the mainland and Harkers Island, North Carolina. The outside of the trailer I would be bunking in was decorated with an assortment of chipped, dangling buoys and decayed, green fishing nets, all of which appeared to have previously been adrift at sea for many years. I stepped inside the lopsided door to find my friends and guides Andrew Campbell and Jay Blankenship buried behind a mountain of tying materials replacing shredded fly lines. I find that calling someone a â€œcharacterâ€? is trite, but that term describes Andrew and Jay perfectly. While sharing a boat with them, it is possible to see everything from Jay sporting a massive, floppy, fish head hat to Andrew expertly steering and casting simultaneously. Their lives and businesses back in Virginia revolve around trying to fish these waters as often as possible. Their unhealthy habit of working all day, driving all night, fishing or guiding all day, and driving back all night does not outweigh the reward of fishing here. Although often sleep deprived, their efforts have been greatly rewarded with incredible fish and invaluable knowledge of this fishery. Being primarily a trout fisherman in Virginia, I never paid the salt too much mind. I was pretty content with my delicate rods and microscopic flies until these guys shook up my fishing world. Their wild stories and genuine excitement for showing this fishery to anglers brought me into the world of saltwater fly fishing. Although they guide and enjoy fishing for just about everything that swims, there is one fish that seems to trump all the rest. Andrew could be fighting a 200-pound shark while expressing his excitement for the false albacore to arrive. These albies are what brought me down to North Carolina on this trip.
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Andrew Campbell and Jay Blankenship make a mess tying up baitfish patterns for false albacore.
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The water in front of us bubbled with small fish being pushed toward the ocean's surface, and torn through by flashes of silver. I found myself almost sympathizing with the fear my fly must be feeling as it landed in the midst of these feeding frenzies.
The false albacore's torpedo-like body and motor-like tail make it pound-forpound one of the hardest fighting fish in the ocean.
After being much too excited to sleep, morning came abruptly. I rolled off my small cot, chugged some instant coffee, helped load up the boat, and we pushed off from the docks. My grip tightened around the salty cork of my ten-weight as we sped off toward the sight of splashing on the horizon. The water in front of us bubbled with small fish being pushed toward the oceanâ€™s surface, and torn through by flashes of silver. I found myself almost sympathizing with the fear my fly must be feeling as it landed in the midst of these feeding frenzies. The speed of the strike startled me each time: I was never ready for it. The excess line, pooled around my bare, sunburned feet, snapped up to the reel, out the guides, and into the blue in a heartbeat. A symphony of high-pitched, screaming reels began as the three of us simultaneously hooked up to these underwater rockets. The conductors of this reel symphony swam in every direction, causing rods and anglers to do circles around the center console, weaving over and under each other in a chaotic, ungraceful ballet. My fly line turned into backing almost instantly. I fought hard to regain line and land the fish before the massive numbers of sharks lurking beneath the boat prematurely ended the excitement. After constantly losing and gaining back inches, I got a glimpse of chrome swimming under the boat. I pulled it away from the shark in pursuit and lifted my first False Albacore up by its strong, tribal-tattooed tail. The intricate markings and muscular torpedo-shaped
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body of the fish were mesmerizing and only furthered the intrigue surrounding this species.
Doubling up is a common occurence when false albacore have bait balled up in a blitz or are schooled up behind a shrimp boat.
As fall moves in and the water begins to cool off the beaches of North Carolina, these speed demons leave the safety of the shallows to feed on schools of bait. This mixture of bait, sharks, big red drum, and albacore creates a unique display of the food chain in action. The opportunities to put a big bend in a rod and tighten down the drag are constant as schools of aggressive albies are ready to destroy flies. These schools can pop up anywhere, so keeping an eye out for birds, sharks, or any sort of splashing will have your eyes longingly playing tricks on you. Once they are spotted, it is a full on sprint out to their feeding ground. It then quickly becomes a game of whack a mole as the splashing appears, disappears, and reappears on the opposite side of the boat. The ability to make quick, accurate casts is a necessity for these speedy fellas. The chaos on the boat is exciting: anglers run back and forth shouting and false casting, always anticipating the next bust from the schools. If the schools are too inconsistent to target during the early part of the season, trailing behind a trawler provides an extraordinary hot spot for catching these fish. When these
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fishing vessels pull up their massive nets, the undesired fish are tossed back into the ocean, leaving a wake of struggling bait. The sharks, albacore, and birds key in on this wake and feast behind these boats. It can be hard to punch a fly through the cloud of squawking seagulls hovering behind the outriggers, but once your fly hits the water, hang on. While my trout rods will never collect dust, my taste for the salt has me disappointed if a fish fails to unspool my backing. This massive frontier provides the potential for amazing experiences, aggressive fish, and some real characters. Andrew and Jay are infected with a contagious addiction to Harkers Island and false albacore, and have opened in me a bottomless desire to chase the ultimate predators of the deep blue.
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Bio: Is a freelance writer and photographer who supplies content to popular fly fishing magazines within the United States.He is a lifelong angler and continues to work in the industry full time for Orvis while taking frequent short breaks for assignments and his passion. Connor is a frequent contributor to Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine and plans to spend more time in the salt contributing to Tail in 2019.
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THOMAS & THOMAS
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might not notice the Thomas & Thomas factory. Set where it is, on a back road in rural western Massachusetts near the convergence of three major rivers, you might mistake it for a remnant of the paper industry.
“I tried to buy the business without buying the building,” explains Neville Orsmond, T&T’s CEO since 2014, on the rainy January day we visit, “but that wasn’t possible. As it’s laid out, the factory is simply inefficient for producing fly rods.” Neville Orsmond knows something about efficiency. Before taking over Thomas & Thomas, he worked for a company that installed automated parking systems in New York City. A fly angler since childhood in his native South Africa, and a fan of Thomas & Thomas fly rods for nearly as long, Neville’s position with the parking-system company gave him access to the region’s storied trout waters, as well as airline access to exotic saltwater destinations. It also put him a couple of hours by car from the town of Greenfield and T&T’s offices. When he got word that the business might be up for sale, he made the drive—the first leg in the journey that would change his life. Thomas & Thomas was founded in 1969 by brothers-in-law Thomas Dorsey and Thomas Maxwell. The business originally began in Pennsylvania, in a rented cabin on the banks of a limestone stream. But when they bought at auction the extensive machinery from Massachusetts rod maker Sewell N. Dunton & Sons, whose company origins dated from the 1850s and whose inventory included the original milling machines acquired from the Montague Rod Company, they found they didn’t have the finances to transport the equipment to Pennsylvania. So instead, they relocated to Turners Falls, Massachusetts, on the Connecticut River. In 2001 the company moved across the river to Greenfield, where it has called home ever since.
photos by Mark White, Keith Rose-Innes & John Carpenter
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hile their sole focus in the beginning was high-quality split-cane rods (for which all would-be clients had to join a waiting list), by the mid-1970s they had become pioneers in the use of carbon fiber. Its reputation bolstered by such highprofile customers as Ernest Schwiebert and Ted Williams, the company grew quickly. By the early 1990s, Thomas & Thomas had 30-plus full-time employees who turned out more than 10,000 rods per year for the world market, including graphite rocket launchers for the burgeoning saltwater game.
“The first thing I had to do was to address repairs,” Neville says: “They were backlogged six months. To claim you make the world’s finest fly rod is no small thing. You can’t have a customer waiting six months to get his rod fixed.” This focus on the customer extends to all aspects of the business. There is no automated phone system. Everyone answers the phone, including Neville. “I don’t want to hear it ring four times,” he says. In addition, all customer emails get answered promptly.
Opposite Page: Thomas & Thomas founders going over details of bamboo fly rods.
“Let’s save the bamboo room for last,” advises John Carpenter, T&T’s Operations Manager, who serves as our tour guide. “If we begin there, we find that everyone usually gets stuck.” We begin at a row of industrial-size chest freezers. The primary material of T&T’s rod blanks, graphite composite sheets (carbon fibers impregnated with thermosetting resin) arrive at the factory packed in dry ice. Because their shelf life is based on temperature, the sheets are kept frozen until ready to use. This extends shelf life for up to a year.
The Thomas & Thomas that Neville Orsmond found when he arrived in Greenfield in 2013 had declined considerably since its glory days. The iconic brand had suffered through a number of ownerships and poor business decisions, the credit crisis of 2008, and bad management. Then-owner Mark Richens had narrowly rescued the company from receivership.
Despite Neville’s talk of modernizing production, it quickly becomes clear that building graphite fly rods is still very much an artisan endeavor. We look on as pattern-cutter Mike Jenest uses templates and a razor knife to hand-cut blank sections from the composite sheets. The cut sections of graphite composite (known in the industry as flags for their pennant shape) are then fastened to precisely tapered steel mandrels using a tacking agent and are placed on a rolling table, which vaguely resembles two ironing boards placed one atop another. The top board rolls the graphite composite around the mandrel using a steady, even pressure, ensuring there are no wrinkles. A tape-wrapping machine spiral-wraps a strip of heat-resistant cellophane tape the entire length of the blank section.
Neville wasn’t deterred. The kid who loved fly fishing was now a businesssavvy adult who had the resources to turn things around. He also had the encouragement of his wife. Eight months later, he had the keys to the place. So began Neville Orsmond’s apprenticeship in fly rod production. Each Sunday evening he made the drive from his home in Connecticut and checked into a local hotel, hitting the factory floor by seven each morning during the workweek to learn from the ground up each phase of production—as well as service, sales, and marketing. (He lived out of that hotel room for a year before moving his family to Massachusetts.)
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Neville’s next order of business, he says, was to modernize production, which required a sizable investment in new equipment. Replacing the outdated rolling table, convection oven, and cellophane-wrapping machine with computercontrolled versions afforded much more precision when working with the latest graphite composites.
Opposite Page: Bundles of blank sections ready to be cut and hand-fitted. Photo: Mark White
The tape-wrapped blank sections are now ready for curing. To achieve consistency in the finished product, a computercontrolled convection oven heats the blank sections in a series of steps—that is, various temperatures for precise lengths of time. One key step is known as the gel phase, in which the resin melts and the cellophane tape shrinks, squeezing the liquified resin amongst the graphite fibers, bonding everything together. Many of the advancements in resin technology, John Carpenter points out, involve getting the graphite fibers to bond together better. Working in conjunction with its suppliers, Thomas & Thomas has recently helped develop a
So began Neville Orsmondâ€™s apprenticeship in fly rod production. Each Sunday evening he made the drive from his home in Connecticut and checked into a local hotel, hitting the factory floor by seven each morning during the workweek to learn from the ground up each phase of production.
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nano-particle resin that fills microscopic voids in the graphite, adding strength to the blank while reducing its weight. This can be experienced in their newest saltwater series, the Exocett, a powerful rod that’s very light in hand. After the blank sections have finished baking, the cellophane tape is stripped off and the sections are removed from the mandrels. Depending on the model of rod being built, the sections are sanded to remove the spiral ridges left by the cellophane. The sections are then painted, most with T&T’s trademark blue finish—either glossy or matte. Once the coatings have dried, the final step in blank production is to cut and hand-fit each male and female section—that is, the sleeve ferrules—to complete the individual blank. Each blank is splined—that is, the backbone of the rod is located and marked—and guide placement is marked in line with the spline and spaced according to a predetermined formula. Now the blank is ready to have the guides wrapped on. We watch Sheila LaShier, an employee of 25 years, wrap a rod old-school—that is, no wrapping stand. The company presently contracts with a number home wrappers, members of the community who are trained at the factory and take bundles of rods home to wrap piecework. Each section of every rod is inscribed with the rod’s unique serial number. This facilitates any future repairs, and it prevents the owner from mixing up sections from two different rods—even on identical models. As John Carpenter explains, blank sections of identical rods are not interchangeable: Each piece is hand-fitted to its adjoining section. This makes each T&T fly rod a unique instrument. Thread wraps are coated in a special environment-controlled room devoid of dust particles. Three coats of epoxy are applied over as many days. Coating the wraps in stages prevents excessive weight along the blank and contributes to the rod’s elegance.
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The butt section of the Exocett is fitted with a light gray anodized aluminum reel seat containing two large locking rings. This is complemented by a full wells grip (comfortable in hand and not overly large) and fighting butt turned from premium cork. The company’s roster of advisors and pro staff use and abuse both production rods as well as prototypes in every fishery imaginable—trout to trevally, bluegill to blue marlin—and provide feedback that informs production and design. Painstaking though the process is—and you’re getting the abridged version—this is what’s required to produce superior graphite fly rods for the demanding modern market. If the graphite end of the factory appeals to the engineer-minded practitioners of the game, the bamboo room appeals to the poets. At once you’re enveloped in a completely different energy, as if transported through time. It is here, amid handsaws and block planes, the smell of burlap and wood varnish, that Troy Jacques transforms raw bamboo culms into the exquisite fly rods that established the Thomas & Thomas name. Troy learned his craft first under the guidance of company cofounder Tom Dorsey, and later under the mentorship of the late British rod-making legend Tom Moran, who, according to Dorsey, “stood
It is here, amid handsaws and block planes, the smell of burlap and wood varnish, that Troy Jacques transforms raw bamboo culms into the exquisite fly rods that established the Thomas & Thomas name.
Opposite Page: Sheila LaShier wraps a rod old-school— sans wrapping stand. Photo: Mark White The product of nano-particle resin and state-of-theart technology, the Exocett is a powerful saltwater rod that’s very light in hand. Photo: Mark White This Page: Bamboo alchemist Troy Jacques with several saltwater works in progress, two of which are destined for high-end retailer Gordy & Sons. Photo: Mark White
above and beyond any I have met.” When Moran returned to England in 1995, all bamboo rod production passed to Troy. “I remember the month before Tom left,” recalls Troy. “I followed him around with a notebook, writing down everything he said. I knew I had to be 110 percent in this. If I was only 90 percent, Tom Dorsey never would have kept me on.” Troy fills us in on the background. Of the thousand-plus species of bamboo, which actually belong to the family of grasses, Tonkin cane (Arundinaria amabilis McClure) possesses the greatest structural strength, with a tensile strength greater than steel. Tonkin cane grows only in a relatively small area of South China’s Guangdong Province (an area about the size of the county in which Greenfield resides). Contrary to what you might think, the finest Tonkin cane is not particularly rare or expensive; enough of the raw material to produce a rod might cost as little as $15. Your investment in a bamboo rod is in the building. Troy shows us a bamboo culm in cross-section, pointing out the power fibers, which lie at the outer edge of the ring, and the inner white pith, which offers nothing to the rod in terms of flex. The lengths of bamboo that have the greatest percentage of power fibers to pith are those that are closest to the ground. The culms are split and planed into equilateral triangular sections, tapered along their length to tolerances within a thousandth of an inch (finer than the finest human hair, to give you a point of reference) and glued and wrapped together to form a hexagonal shaft. “A bamboo trout rod,” says Troy, “can have a bit of pith. But a 10-weight rod should consist entirely of power fibers.” This segues into the most intriguing leg of the tour for us— T&T’s latest models of bamboo: their saltwater series of rods. This is a project Troy has wanted to undertake since the beginning. Inspired by vintage images from the early days of
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As striped bass are difficult to come by in western Massachusetts in January, we had to content ourselves with taking the rod out on the lawn for a test drive. For those who question whether the noble grass is up to the job of making the long, powerful casts required for success in salt water, be advised: This ainâ€™t your grandaddyâ€™s bamboo.
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the game—“I’d like to fill that entire wall with black-and-white photos”—he began to design and build his first saltwater rod, an 8-foot, 3-inch rod for 9-weight line. John Carpenter recalls when he and Troy took the prototype to Martha’s Vineyard to sight fish for striped bass, guided by Captain Jaime Boyle. “We took along a 9-weight graphite rod as well, and we thought the bamboo would be a novelty. We thought we’d each catch a fish with it and put it away. But it was so much fun that we didn’t pick up the graphite rod the entire day.” As striped bass are difficult to come by in western Massachusetts in January, we had to content ourselves with taking the rod out on the lawn for a test drive. For those who question whether the noble grass is up to the job of making the long, powerful casts required for success in salt water, be advised: This ain’t your grandaddy’s bamboo.
“The advisors have been pushing the prototype 12-weights beyond what I had intended. I actually appreciate this, because if I can get a rod back and look at it and see where the extreme has caused it to fail, then I can take that as constructive criticism to build a 14- or 16-weight.” Troy doesn’t know how many of these rods Thomas & Thomas will sell (at this writing, there’s about a nine month wait for custom bamboo). “They’re not for everybody,” he concedes. “They’re for the angler who’s on the water a lot, has done a lot of sight fishing, and they’re looking for that next challenge. Kind of like the hunter who starts hunting with a longbow. That’s what got me into fly fishing to begin with—the challenge. That’s what keeps me interested. That’s what keeps me a kid.”
“Although I love graphite for the phenomenal casting tool it is,” Troy says, “there are things I actually like better about bamboo. It has more feel, and it can water-load a longer line than graphite can.” These rods aren’t just pretty casting tools, however. To date, the largest rod Troy has built, a 12-weight, has subdued giant trevally, tuna in the 100-pound range, a tarpon of 160 pounds, as well as large sailfish and marlin.
It is obvious that bamboo is not just for small trout streams, but can handle anything from striped bass to the largest of tarpon.
We conclude our tour in Neville’s office, with a cup of coffee he prepares for us. Neville asks us about our fishing and talks enthusiastically of his own. It’s clear that this is exactly where he wants to be in life, doing the job that he was born to do. Neville talks about his plans for the future of the company—a new factory that doubles as a visitor's center to promote the region’s natural resources. “The Commonwealth has been fantastic to work with,” Neville says. “They’ve been very supportive of what we’re doing for the economy here, and they’ve given us a lot of encouragement to move forward.” Neville’s affable smile conveys a can-do attitude that leaves no doubt he’ll make it happen. You don’t need to wait for the visitor’s center to open, however. Neville encourages anyone to stop by for a visit now. If you do, you’ll find an upscale fly rod factory to be sure, but you’ll find much more than that.
Brewery Name: Destihl Brewery Website: destihl.com Location: Normal, IL Beer Type: Gose Appearance: Clear golden yellow Aroma: Sharp acidity and briny lime, with a touch of earthiness Flavor: Tart lime and salt, with a bright clean acidity and faint coriander ABV: 5.2% Final Thoughts: Crazy refreshing and great. This is one of our favorites for a Gose. Pairs great with light seafood dishes and especially great with ceviche.
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The dog days of summer are fully upon us. Long days on the water and hot nights call for beer that not only satisfies, but also wonâ€™t leave you feeling too full. The beers picked here are from all over the United States and represent what we feel are perfect summertime beers.
HERE GOSE NOTHIN'
Brewery Name: Seventh Son Brewery Website: seventhsonbrewing.com Location: Columbus, OH Beer Type: IPA Appearance: Golden orange with a slight haze Aroma: Floral and hoppy Flavor: Slightly creamy, with citrus and piney hop flavors ABV: 7.9% Final Thoughts: A good mix of a New England and West Coast IPA. Clean with good carbonation. Would be great with smoked meats, especially dry rubbed ribs.
Brewery Name: Evil Twin Brewing Website: eviltwin.dk/ Location: Stratford, CT Beer Type: Berliner-weisse Appearance: Hazy golden yellow Aroma: Tart fruit with some earthy notes Flavor: Sour green apple and lemon, with wheat, sharp ABV: 4% Final Thoughts: A great version of this style. Perfect for hot days when you want something refreshing and not too heavy. Great with grilled shrimp with lemon, as well as raw oysters.
Brewery Name: Jackie Oâ€™s Website: jackieos.com Location: Athens, OH Beer Type: American Pale Ale Appearance: Hazy yellow Aroma: Citrus bomb with some floral notes Flavor: Super juicy and hoppy, with a slight cracker malt taste ABV: 5.5% Final Thoughts: A wonderful unfiltered pale ale for those who donâ€™t want the abv and full body of a New England style IPA. The perfect summer session beer for big IPA drinkers. Great with Asian style wings or pork tacos.
WHO COOKS FOR YOU?
Brewery Name: Sierra Nevada Website: sierranevada.com Location: Chico, CA Beer Type: Blonde Ale Appearance: Slightly hazy pale yellow Aroma: Slight citrus hop, grassy and malt Flavor: Light, crisp and clean flavors of hop and malt ABV: 4.8% Final Thoughts: Easy to drink, but has the right amount of flavor to make you keep wanting more. Perfect for any occasion and about anything you can put on the grill.
Brewery Name: Three Floyds Website: 3floyds.com Location: Munster, IN Beer Type: American Pale Ale Appearance: Golden/amber Aroma: Strong citrus and sticky pine Flavor: Resiny-hoppiness and sweet malt ABV: 6.66% Final Thoughts: A fantastic variation of an American pale ale. Great balance and piney sticky goodness. Would pair great with onion rings or a grilled hamburger with caramelized onions.
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by KELLI PRESCOTT
The best kept secret for the perfect burger is grinding your own meat. Nothing beats a brisket short rib patty. The fat and marbling in brisket is ideal for the juiciest burger youâ€™ll ever eat, and the chuck short ribs give the burger a rich, beefy flavor.
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SECRET SAUCE -1/2 cup good mayo (Duke’s is my favorite) -1/4 cup ketchup -3 tbsp drippings from cooked burgers -1 tbsp apple cider vinegar -1/2 tsp coarse cracked pepper
INGREDIENTS -2 lbs english cucumbers, (sliced 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch) -2 fresno chilis (sliced thin) -4 cloves garlic (sliced thin) -1 bunch of dill (chopped roughly)
Give your brisket a good trim, cube it up and grind it. Do the same with the boneless short ribs. Mix the ground brisket 50/50 with the ground short rib. Form into 1/2 lb patties that are slightly larger than the buns. Season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper on each side. Grill patties on a charcoal fire with a few slivers of oak. Make sure your grill is very hot, and once you place the burgers down, don’t peek. Give them a good 3-4 minutes before flipping. Flip once, then add cheese. Cook until medium. Once the patties are done and resting, use the same fire to toast your buns lightly. Slice vegetables for topping thinly and season with salt and cracked pepper. Remember, everything needs seasoning. Feel free to add other topping options as well (I personally love avocado and cilantro on my burger). Now it’s time for the secret sauce. Add mayonnaise, ketchup, vinegar and cracked pepper in a bowl, mix to combine. Your patties should have let out all kinds of yummy juice on the plate, so take a couple tablespoons of those drippings and mix into the secret sauce as well. Done. Smear a hefty amount of secret sauce on the top and bottom bun. Build your burger as big as you’d like and enjoy!
INGREDIENTS -kosher salt, to taste cracked pepper, to taste -1lb of ground brisket + 1 lb of ground boneless chuck short ribs (formed into 4, 1/2 lb patties) -4 large brioche buns, toasted on the grill -cheddar slices (I use raw milk cheddar) -butter lettuce -heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin -red onion, sliced thin -house pickles
Mix vegetables and dill evenly and distribute into mason jars. Heat all ingredients for pickling liquid in a medium saucepan. Whisk until sugar and salt completely dissolve. Once mixture is extremely hot, pour pickling liquid over vegetables until they're completely covered and mason jars are full. Seal with lids, refrigerate. Wait an hour, then enjoy.
-1 3/4 cups water -1 cup apple cider vinegar -1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar -1 tbsp brown sugar -2 tbsp kosher salt -1 tsp yellow mustard seeds -1/2 tsp coriander seeds -1/2 tsp celery seed -1/2 tsp black peppercorns -1 bay leaf
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Grilled Caesar Salad
INGREDIENTS -1 romaine lettuce head, halved lengthwise, core intact -1/3 cup crumbled parmesan -1 tbsp parsley, chopped finely -day old baguette, cubed -anchovies -2 lemons, halved -your favorite caesar dressing -2 egg yolks -2 tbsp lemon juice
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Fire up your grill and get it hot. A grill pan also works perfectly, but make sure itâ€™s piping hot. While thatâ€™s going, toss cubed baguette with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425Âş for about five minutes or until golden and crisp. Set finished croutons aside. Mix your favorite dressing with a couple more egg yolks and lemon juice and stir to combine. Grill your lettuce halves for about three minutes per side, until nice grill marks form. Grill the lemons at the same time, skin side down until color develops. Assemble salad halves with toppings and give the grilled lemon a squeeze over the top before enjoying.
The Contraband Crab is a confluence of several of my favorite crab patterns: Bauer Crab, Scotch-Brite Crab and McFly Crab. My goal was to incorporate all my favorite attributes or “abilities” and overcome each pattern’s shortcomings.
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Nobody Does It Better
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he Bauer Crab has been a fly box staple since the 1970s. Its iconic, knotted square rubber legs allow the segment below the knot to be positioned in a rearward-facing direction, giving this pattern a very realistic silhouette. When purchasing this pattern from your local fly shop, you will find that the cheap (usually dull) hook is bent to create a larger hook-gape. This weakens the integrity of the hook—not to mention altering its effectiveness. If the eyes are inserted into the wool with too much glue, the wool fibers wick the glue and stiffen as the glue cures, leaving you with a great looking “teaser” with insufficient gape. The Scotch-Brite pattern is my variation on the Raghead Crab. I did not like the flat, unrealistic look of felt, so I searched for years to replace the material with something that was thicker, more durable and also provided a more mottled look. After a little experimentation, I found that Scotch-Brite pads can be stamped to shape and cut in half to sandwich the hook. This provided the look I was after. But the feather claws were on the rear of the fly, not the front, and the splayed round rubber legs shooting in every direction looked like a spider that was smacked with a flip-flop. Although the round rubber legs were excellent for movement, they were not durable. And they were terrible for holding the color applied with a permanent marker. After being exposed to salt water for a few hours, the color either faded away or smeared everywhere. The McFly Foam Crab was my fix for the majority of these issues. Yet I ran into some new problems when I tried to scale the pattern down to extremely small sizes. The pattern utilizes a Mustad C68SNP-DT, which is perfect if you are looking for a nickle-sized crab, but this hook was not as effective for matching dime-size crabs or smaller due to the wire thickness in the smaller-sized hooks. As a commercial fly tier, you can gather a lot of info from the orders that you get based on the location or species the anglers intend to fish. Each year it seems that the flies for all species (especially tarpon and permit) get smaller and smaller as these fish become more pressured and in turn more wary. Matching custom requests is typically not a problem. However, some materials are simply not scalable or available in smaller sizes or colors. With materials such as McFly Foam, using less to create a smaller fly does not respond the same as the original recipe—so you risk losing the realistic look or the functionality for which you picked the material in the first place. As the hook size decreases, so does the hook gape, wire and strength, which becomes a huge issue, especially when it comes to crab patterns for plus-sized permit. The obvious fix would be to go to a larger or wider-gape hook. But this is no improvement if the fly doesn’t look natural and the fish refuse it. In order for your fly to mimic the intended prey, it must sink at the same speed as a natural. A fly that moves too slowly or too quickly through the water column is a red flag to permit. A refusal usually follows. Permit have huge eyes for acute vision. They often follow a fly and examine it as it is stripped all the way back to the boat. In the past, I have talked about the idea of black hooks having a tendency to silhouette over white sand and become potentially more visible in clear water. However, over the last few years this hypothesis is believed by many—including me—to be untrue. Larger fish or fish that experience a lot of pressure seem to be more spooked by the glint from a silver hook. Now I tend to tie with both black and silver hooks to hedge for any situation. When choosing crab patterns to fill your box, I like patterns that can be easily modified on the water and fished effectively anywhere. The materials utilized in the Contraband Crab pattern all hold color well and can be easily modified with markers to mimic a unique prey’s colorations that you may encounter on the water.
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M MATERIALS Hook: Black Gamakatsu L11s-3H, size 6 Thread: Olive Danville 210 denier Flat Waxed Nylon Eyes: 5/32nd black nickel brass dumbbell; large black EP Shrimp & Crab Eyes Legs: Large gray square rubber Claws: Olive Micro Chenille Body: Tan Scotch-Brite, Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scour Pad Adhesive: Clear e6000 Glue; White Tulip Fabric Paint Marker: Copic YG95 Pale Olive for body; Copic E57 Light Walnut for claws
STEP 1: Start the thread at the eye of the hook and wrap backward, creating an even thread layer ending in the middle of the hook shank. STEP 2: Tie in the dumbbell eyes with a series of tight figureeight and doughnut wraps.
STEP 3: Continue wrapping toward the bend, covering the entire hook shank with an even layer of thread. Once you reach the bend of the hook, advance the thread back to the eye. This layer of thread will provide a better bond when gluing the body of the Crab to the hook assembly. STEP 4: Whip finish at the eye of the hook, cut away the thread and set the prepped hook aside.
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STEP 5: I like to tie up several of these in advance to save time.
STEP 6: Fold two three-inch pieces of chenille in half and tie a knot about a quarter-inch from the folded end. Cut the loops to create claws. Mark with a brown or olive permanent marker for a mottled look. STEP 7: Cut a two-and-a-quarter-inch section of square rubber legs. Separate two legs from the strip. STEP 8: Tie an overhand knot approximately three-quarters of an inch from one end. STEP 9: Tie a second knot on the other side of the leg, approximately three-quarters of an inch from the other end. More than likely, the segmented portions of the leg beyond the knot will be facing in different directions, and that is okay.
STEP 10: Roll one or both of the knots until the segmented portions of the legs are approximately the same length and are pointing in the same direction. Repeat on the second leg. Do your best to make the knots on the second leg slightly closer together than the first. This is very difficult to achieve and maintain with any kind of consistency using a round rubber leg or thinner flat silicone leg. This is why the square rubber legs are so important. STEP 11: Using a crab-shaped cutter, stamp out the shell of the crab from a sheet of Scotch-Brite, Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scour Pad. If you do not have a crab-shaped cutter, simply trace a dime on the pad and cut it with scissors. STEP 12: Using a serrated knife or micro-serrated scissors, carefully cut the pad in half from end to end.
STEP 13: When you are finished, you should have two matching Crab bodies, half the width of the original pad. This is essential, because the original pad is too thick and will impede the gape of the hook when the Crab is assembled. STEP 14: Lay out all the parts of the Crab to be assembled. The rubber leg with the knots closer together will be positioned below the other leg. Trim the longer portions of the claws slightly, so they will fit onto the body of the Crab. STEP 15: E6000 is the best glue I have found for assembling the Crab bodies. If you are tying up multiple bodies at the same time, however, you can substitute the E6000 for fabric paint that matches the desired color of the finished Crab. The thinner paint has a tendency to wick through the body material, but it works well to glue the appendages to the body.
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STEP 16: Begin assembly by laying the pair of EP Shrimp & Crab Eyes in to the glue. Cut away the portion of the mono post that sticks out beyond the Scotch-Brite Pad. The black eye should stick out slightly, beyond the body. The butts of the mono post should be angled to create a V shape. Next, place the legs into the glue so that the segmented portions beyond the knots point backward in the same direction. Complete the assembly by placing the claws at a 45-degree angle. The knots of the claws should stick out beyond the Scotch-Brite Pad and line up approximately with the eyes. Set aside to dry. STEP 17: After the body assembly is completely dry, place the hook in the vise, point up. Place a pea-sized bead of glue on top of the hook and above the dumbbell eyes. STEP 18: Center the body of the Crab on top of the dumbbell eyes. STEP 19: Using a bodkin, spread the glue evenly on the exposed thread wraps and dumbbell eyes. This will create a much better bond between the body and the hook.
STEP 20: With your index finger, press and hold the body in place for 20 to 30 seconds until the glue starts to set up. Make sure that the body does not cover the eye of the hook. STEP 21: Once the glue is thoroughly dry, trim the segmented portions of the leg to approximately half an inch. STEP 22: Place a loop of blue painter's tape on an index card and stick the crab to the tape on top. This will keep the fly from blowing away when coloring it with the Copic airbrush or markers. STEP 23: Select your color of choice, and spray the shell and legs of the Crab. If you do not have an airbrush, mark these portions with a permanent marker.
STEP 24: Allow ample time to dry, then turn the fly over and color the underside of the Crab. (If using a Copic airbrush, you must spray the fly with a layer of clear coat to insure that the ink does not fade.) STEP 25: Cover the exposed thread wraps and dumbbell eyes with a thin layer of fabric paint. Most crabs are white on the underside, but feel free to match the fabric paint color to the crabs you are trying to imitate.
BIO: Drew Chicone of Fort Myers, Florida is one of today's top young fly designers. This article is from a 900-page three-volume set on original patterns for bonefish, tarpon and permit called Top Saltwater Flies by Wild River Press. It’s the largest tyinginstruction series ever published on the subject. To order online by credit card go to www.topsaltwaterflies.com or telephone 425-486-3638.
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The uncompromising, award-winning saltwater rods from Scott.
Scott Fly Rod Company
2 3 5 5 A i r P a r k W a y, M o n t r o s e , C o l o r a d o 8 1 4 0 1
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Heavyweights of Jamaica Bay by Joe Dahut Hidden in one of the world's biggest cities is Arthur Cortes' playground for false albacore and striped bass.
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met Arthur in the gravel parking lot of the marina early in the morning when the sky still looked like a watercolor painting. I assembled my rod and pulled out my flies to ask his opinion, expecting him to pluck out a clouser and use it all day. He quickly turned his head from assembling his own rods. “They’re all too small, man. I got you.” He dangled the popper we eventually used all day, a popper from hell - a bleach white beast that would take my personal best striped bass. It was hard for me to believe anything would actually eat that. My heart paused as he tied it on, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Arthur was born and raised in the Bronx and started fishing for stripers off the shore with a fly rod kit he bought from Dick’s Sporting Goods. After watching the fishing clubs fish the banks, he soon learned the secrets of his fishing idols, like “Tony Sandpiper,” a local legend who exclusively fished the obtrusive lure pattern, the Atom Popper. When Cortes grew up, he primarily fished with bait, and didn’t fish with lures until he saw Tony hauling in huge fish. Fly fishing in the Bronx isn’t exactly destination fly fishing, but more something reserved for locals who can launch a healthy backcast for distance into the wind. It’s not crazy, people just don’t know anything about it. “People think that the Bronx is just ghettos. Yeah, we have those, but so does everywhere else. There are fish to be caught here.” Cortes sought to capitalize on the lonely market of guiding in the
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Bronx, and found a few regular clients willing to get on his boat with him. After realizing that completely sustaining himself as a full-time guide in the Northeast was unrealistic because of the short guiding season, he started working as a dock builder. Cortes found that working on the docks gave him more time on the water, some more cash, and he was able to talk to other similar-minded people. It wasn’t glamorous, but when you try to make it as a guide where nobody believes there are fish, sometimes you have to do some dirty work. “No one believed in the Bronx. No one believed the fish were there,” Cortes said, despite the pictures he posted of the stripers he pulled from the water. After recognizing that he needed to expand his business, he took a ride one day to investigate new waters outside of the Bronx. “No one believed in the Bronx. No one believed the fish were there,” Cortes said, despite the pictures he posted of the stripers he pulled from the water.
Cortes first took his 1972 19-foot Mako for a false albacore run in Breezy Point, just outside of Jamaica Bay. An article he’d read claimed it was “the best kept secret of New York,” a mecca for Northeastern saltwater fly fishing. After running the boat through Hell Gate on the East River in mid-September of 2016, he told a few of his clients who had albies on their bucket list that he would be making the trip. His clients were thrilled with the success they had. False albacore have amassed an obsessive fly rod following due to their compact size and strength. Close relatives of the tuna, albies are a desirable fly rod fish because their fight does not match their size. Speeding torpedos with eyeballs like nickels, albies have a keen ability when it comes to fly inspection, quickly destroying or rejecting the presentation of a fly. False albacore test the limits of anglers, and their ferocity has made them notorious fly rod fighters in the Mid-Atlantic region. Cortes’ clients loved his decision to move to new water. After Cortes created a network of captains willing to share information about the albie run, he found his groove in the South Shore. Cortes said that most of the time, the captains will share some information, but won’t tell you everything. “They will tell you, but they won’t tell you tell you, which is fine.” That’s the way he likes it, because that’s what makes it fishing. “If it’s really a tough bite,” Cortes admitted, “I will tell my other captain friends, like, there’s fish over here, but that’s only after a hard day of fishing.” When Cortes first met new water, he reached out to a few guides that gave him tips about fly selection, times, and locations. He was relieved to
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My popper's wake coaxed the stripers to the surface, and they inhaled the fat wad of feathers and gold crystal flash that jetted from the white foam body.
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be greeted by an established community that helped him get going in the business. He told me that fly fishing guides in the area are friendly with each other, and although they share some information, there are still secrets to success. He, like all anglers, has a reverence for the space of other captains and anglers, and knows how hard finding spots that hold fish can be. Anglers are superstitious about spots, especially if their livelihood depends on it. When a guide has their secret spot, you can bet they won’t give it away for free. Cortes first had the idea to become a fly fishing guide when he went on a trip to Patagonia. He was drawn to the bloodthirsty trout willing to munch dragonfly imitations the size of a grown man’s palm before they even landed on the water. Arthur originally flew to Chile to help his father, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer. After his father died, he turned mourning into a journey that sent him up the shores of Chile, through mountains and deserts, fishing everywhere in between. This pilgrimage was eventually the catalyst that enabled Cortes to find himself, his passion, and later, his business. On Christmas Day in 2012, he left to spend three days with two fly fishing guides on a small island in a lake teeming with the
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He told me that fly fishing guides in the area are friendly with each other, and although they share some information, there are still secrets to success.
legendary Patagonian trout. In the midst of the rainy season, Arthur lucked into his last fish on a dry fly after a day of fishing for streamer-eating trout. One of his guides asked him if there were fly fishing guides in the United States. "'This is the best job in the world,'” Cortes’ guide confessed to him, and in a month’s time, Arthur jump-started his guiding career with inheritance money from his late father. He had a boat, his captain’s license, and full reign of the Western Long Island Sound as the only fly fishing guide, the next closest guide being in Norwalk. When I went fishing with Arthur for stripers, the water was calm and the city skyline loomed in the distance. I had never fished that close to an airport before, and wasn’t surprised when I saw the rusty chain link fence, beached tires, and plastic bags floating near the runway. Despite what was around the water, what happened on the water was nothing but electric. My popper’s wake coaxed the stripers to the surface, and they inhaled the fat wad of feathers and gold crystal flash that jetted from the white foam body. The bass honed in on the sound of the pop and dialed in to the fly when we paused strips, bullying the fly that mimicked an injury. We threw casts at the shoreline, stripping until the surface erupted with a thrash. This all happened as planes rocketed off and landed with ease right next to us, the noise blocking casting directions shouted from the back of the boat. You might not believe there are fish in these waters by the looks of the place, but when you feel the bend in the rod and see the orange backing peeling off the reel, only then will you believe in the heavyweights that swim in Jamaica Bay. Bio: Joe Dahut is an emerging writer from Maryland following both fresh and saltwater fly fishing explorations. A recent graduate from Drew University in New Jersey, he studied literature, creative writing, and pitched for the baseball team when he wasn’t in the classroom or on the water. Although throwing sliders was his first love, he figures throwing fake bugs at anything that swims will suffice. He considers life an eternal pursuit for the perfect fish, the perfect pitch, and a finished poem.
Just a stroll in the park.
Hellâ€™s Bay Boatworks greatly relies on clean healthy estuaries. We are proud to partner with Captains For Clean Water in the battle to save the Florida Everglades. w w w . h e l l s b ay b o at w o r k s . c o m
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As we rolled out of the driveway around 4:30 PM this past Friday, I went over our lists in my head one last time. Did we have everything? Had I seen everything packed? Were we prepared for any eventuality? Would we catch fish and if everything went wrong, what were we going to do? My 16-year-old son and I were hosting my cousin on a two-day fishing excursion that included camping out on the beach in a pretty remote spot. No cell phones, no internet and no way to swing into the store and pick-up anything forgotten. This is nothing new to us but it was the first time that my fired up for fishing, leap before you look 16-year-old had taken care of a good portion of the planning.
AN ANGLER OPINES
OFF THE BEATEN PATH by Rock Dawson
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fully expected that while there would be more than enough flies, we might not have leaders or maybe he forgot to pack my reel or sleeping bag. In a world where nearly any task, regardless of importance, can be interrupted by Snapchat or Instagram, did he have the focus to make sure that we had everything on the lists that we had so carefully put together? As Saturday unfolded, it became clear the answer was a resounding "yes." I was and am truly amazed. There were a few items that we noted to add to our list for the next excursion, but all in all he had done one hell of a job. While his expedition awareness still needs some work, the idea of fishing as a team sport where “we before me” makes sure that everyone is participating and having fun, he is learning and truly beginning to understand that planning, preparation and organization are paramount in facilitating a successful trip. As I watched him over the weekend I began thinking about all the things that people can learn from trips like ours where adults have the opportunity to interact with kids or other adults in an environment that is completely unplugged. How much more attention we pay to the people around us and how much more attention they pay to us. How much more important the environment becomes. How quickly we pick up new ideas and learn new things when we’re not trying to do ten things at once. At its core, these are many of the same reasons that I started fishing and to begin with.
Fly fishing is my escape from the world; it’s my opportunity to shut out everything else and concentrate on the task at hand and the beautiful surroundings.
Fly fishing is my escape from the world; it’s my opportunity to shut out everything else and concentrate on the task at hand and the beautiful surroundings. It is my opportunity to bond with an environment that is all too often an afterthought in today’s society and learn from it as I pay it homage for the escape from the civilized world that it provides. As more and more of the planet becomes a “concrete jungle” and the wilds become a setting for an eco-lodge, the opportunities to truly get away from humanity become less and less. More of my fishing trips than ever are drive to dock, step on boat, fish, step off boat, drive home. While these are some wonderful trips, rarely are we away from internet and cell coverage, rarely are we truly self-reliant, rarely are we in a situation where we have to truly be in tune with what we are doing as a misstep is not resolvable with a cell phone call or a Google search but rather must be managed on our own. These are the adventures when the food tastes better, the beer is more refreshing, a sleeping bag offers the best night’s sleep in months, the scenery is even more spectacular and friendships grow. These are the adventures when you can refresh your soul, when you can truly learn and teach, when you can remember or maybe experience for the first time why we need to be good stewards of the natural resources that we still have. Take the time to get off the beaten path, take the time to get away from people and civilization, take the time to go where cell phones won’t reach and where you are responsible for your own actions, good or bad. Whether you’re fishing, surfing, rock climbing or whatever your passion or activity, take the time to go where most others won’t, where there are no lodges or hotels or maybe even campgrounds and take your kids if you have them and you can. Be smart (don’t go beyond your level of ability), do your research beforehand and plan, prepare and organize so that you’re ready for problems. But just go. As we pulled back into our driveway late Sunday evening I quickly recounted the trip. We had caught some fish (not what I had hoped for but that’s fishing), eaten well, experienced a part of nature we never get to see day-to-day, slept like babies, had great conversations with friends. All of us had something new to take away. While this won’t go down as one of our epic catching trips, it will remain emblazoned in each of our memories as a true adventure, something that most of us experience far too little of.
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CONNECTING FLY FISHERS WORLDWIDE
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Tail Fly Fishing Magazine is the voice of saltwater fly fishing culture in a bimonthly print publication. We focus on delivering the best ph...
Published on Jul 1, 2018
Tail Fly Fishing Magazine is the voice of saltwater fly fishing culture in a bimonthly print publication. We focus on delivering the best ph...