Thursday, April 26, 2012

Carp on the Fly: Finally Landed One

Finally.  All winter I sat in class (oh I am in law school by the way) and drooled over pictures of big, drag melting fish.  I knew that, being very landlocked, the only two that I might encounter were striper or... well carp.  Because I do not have a boat, I thought- "I need to fish for carp."  I have tried to catch carp several times.  No go.  So this was a challenge.  I mean, I have a fishing blog- I must be good enough to catch a carp... ha.  This season I did my homework, tied a bunch of stupid looking flies and scoped out some spots on Google Earth.  From the beginning, it seemed like I was cursed.  Trip after trip yielded nothing.  Finally I scoped out a new spot.  Basically, it is a large drainage ditch with a bunch of stinky, rubber-lipped carp cruising around in it.  I figured I would get there early.  So I rolled in at the crack of 9:30 AM (did I mention I am a student?).  I saw the carp.  The carp saw me.  I studied the carp.  The carp studied me.  I tried my new carp flies. Nothing.  I tried trout flies.  Nothing.  I probably tried 30 flies before I noticed that all the carp were eating was algae.  They would swim up to a floating chunk of green stuff and suck it in like cotton candy.  I looked through my boxes and landed on an olive marabou jig.  I had no confidence in the wimpy hook, plus it was de-barbed.  Anyway, by this time I had been out there about 4 hours.  Sure I had caught some big bluegill and a few bass, but I was getting frustrated with the carp.  I was tired, my phone and camera battery were low and I was hungry.  I got several eats.  Missed them all.  Finally I swung this little wussy jig past the biggest carp I could see and he pounced on it like a crackhead on a twenty.  He sucked that thing in, I set the hook hard and it was on.  Fought that ugly son of a gun for at least five minutes before I made a grab for him.  Too slippery.  Another five minutes later I had him.  I felt a little bad about laying him on the gravel but he seemed ok, no damage or anything.  Finally got one... challenge completed- now maybe I can focus on studying for finals.  Maybe.

Couldn't keep these guys away from my fly.

Caught this dude right off the bat.

A few pretty decent sunfish.

Boom, finally heard that drag.


He was pissed.


Wishing I had brought a net at this point.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Smith Sunglasses Review

I have owned these glasses for about 6 months now and I can honestly say that I have worn them almost everyday.  I have to preface this by saying that my last pair of glasses ere Costa Del Mar Brines.  While they serviced me very well for several years, they wore out and when I sent them to be repaired, I got the newer Brine frames.  This would be great except that the new frames are too small for my giant head.  Anyway, I decided to try Smith Optics because I had heard nothing but good things about them.  I have always enjoyed sunglasses.  I am one of those guys who can't go outside without a pair.  I have owned lots of cheapo polarized sunglasses plus some Sunclouds, Strike Kings etc.  Before I bought these Smiths, I thought that Costa Del Mar was the apex of sunglass design.  I was definitely wrong (though they are still great).  These Smiths are legitimately awesome.  I have always liked small, quality items.  You know, the kind of gear that just feels good.  You pick it up, feel the weight and construction and just know that the product is well made.  These sunglasses are one of those pieces of gear.  Good polarized glasses are essential to most fishing, as I am sure you know.  There are a few tiers of polarized glasses that range in price from 5 or 10 dollars up to 300 to 500 dollars.  The Smith Optics Touchstones are near the top of the list.  They retail for $219 and are worth every penny.  Like I said, I wear these most every day.  I wear them to drive, to walk around outside and, of course, to fish.  They have performed flawlessly in every situation that I have worn them in.  The fit is large, but like I said, I have a giant noggin.  These things are almost aviator-like in their coverage.  I think I wear a 7 and 3/4 hat size.  I also have a fairly large snozz.  This usually means that sunglasses do not provide me with the coverage I want because my nose holds them too far off of my face.  While there is a bit of light underneath the frames on my Touchstones, it is less than with other frames and it does not bother me.  I decided to go with the Copper colored Techlite glass lenses.  I personally prefer glass lenses because they do not scratch as easily and provide better optics.  The downside is that they are heavy and offer less impact resistance, in other words they could shatter.  The Copper color is great for ozark streams with mostly brown and green bottoms.  It cuts glare and helps fish to "pop" against whatever background they are above.  I have to say that these are the best sight-fishing glasses I have tried to date.  The next feature is the polarchromatic technology.  I had no idea what this meant before I looked at Smith.  These glasses actually change color as light gets brighter.  It is kind of like those dorky eyeglasses that turn into sunglasses except they never get clear, just lighter.  This feature is great because it allows me to wear them all day without having to take them off at dawn, dusk or when it gets cloudy.  That always bothered me about my other sunglasses.  Even when it is cloudy, polarized lenses still help cut glare and help you to pick out fish.  When they are too dark, you just can't wear them all the time.  The polarchromatic lenses help out a lot with this annoyance.  These glasses came with a cool case and weird little cleaning cloth as well as a great lifetime warranty.  They are made in Italy, which is kind of a bummer because I like to buy American, but I do like Italian food and mobster movies so it could be worse.  They have really nice spring hinges and the plastic frame is as nice as I have ever seen.  The only real downside to these glasses is that they are kind of heavy and that they leave me with a wicked case of raccoon eyes.  Oh and I did not receive any money or free stuff for this review- I just really like these glasses and I bet you would too.        

Me and my big sniffer holding a White River snake and wearing my Touchstones.

Lessons in Piscatorial Identification

Not a carp. ^
Well, if I were better at rough fish identification, I would have known that my carp quest is still ongoing.  My buddy Wade and I got to slip out this afternoon for some creek fishing.  This spot is known to have some carp so I figured we would give it a try.  Right off the bat, I caught what I thought was a carp... I mean, it had rubbery lips and bronze scales.  I was a little disappointed by how it fought.  Then when I got home I did a little googling and quickly realized I had caught a dang redhorse.  To be fair, It was a pretty big redhorse and I didn't get a ton of time to look at it because it popped out of my hand after this one pic.  Ya ya, I know suckers and carp look different but I got excited ok?  The trip was definitely not a totally bust.  Wade tore up the suckers and chubs and hooked and lost a good smallmouth.  Hooked a ton of little bass and bluegill and one decent kentucky bass.  We were fishing over what we thought were a bunch of carp in a deeper hole.  After hooking a small sucker and watching all the fish try to engulf the little guy, we realized they were all huge largemouth.  By "huge" I mean for a little creek with pretty high fishing pressure.  The biggest one might have been four pounds.  It was weird to feel disappointed that there was a school of big bass in front of me instead of carp.  Dang carp.  If I could just land one I think I could go back to more "normal" fish.  But until I do, the hunt continues.  I have been hitting up a local pond quite a bit lately that has one big common carp and a whole fleet of massive grassies.  I have hooked that pesky carp three times and he has come unbuttoned each and every time.  Man I think I hate carp... but I just can't leave them alone.    

Wade lost a good smally but landed his little brother as a consolation prize.

Caught way too many of these.

I dont think I've ever caught one of these hog suckers before.

Pucker up.

Decent little largemouth on a Clouser.

Pretty day and pretty water.  Looks carpy right?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Have A Fly Addiction

I know some people have a far larger fly collection than I do.  I also know that I cannot possibly use all the flies I have.  Why do I keep tying and buying them?  Its craziness.  A sickness.  Insanity.  I just sit down and tie a few flies in the evenings.  Innocent right? No real purpose for the flies. One of this color, a few of that color, maybe a size 12.  My sick mind says "Hey why not tie a few of those with grizzly hackle?"  The reality is that having all of these flies and fly boxes does not help me catch fish.  It just plain doesn't.  I came to this conclusion as I was spending 2 hours reorganizing my boxes.  I have a trout box, a small streamer box, medium streamer box, dry fly box, hopper box, clouser box, carp box, big bass fly box, an egg box and a salt water box.  Oh and then there is my big streamer Plano "boat" box with hair and bucktail sticking out all over the place and a junk drawer filled with loose flies.  I was trying to organize my flies so that I could just say "Ok, I want to fish for trout, I will take this box."  Instead I have 3 or 4 boxes that I might potentially "need" while messing around on some tailwater.  What is really sick is that I see that empty space in my small streamer box and I want to fill it up!  Some insanity drives me to fill the empty space!  Its a sickness I tell you.  Many of these flies have never been in the water.  Many will probably never go in the water.  
            I am just 25 years old at this point.  If I continue on this track, when I am 50 I will either have succumb to some terrible fishing accident or I will have amassed such a store of fly fishing junk that my house will look like an episode of "Hoarders."  Some fruity guy and a psychologist will be rooting through Drake magazines and old rod cases and find a dead cat with its eyes all bulged out.  I will be throwing a tantrum on the front lawn because the man threw out my favorite box of bonefish flies.  Of course, when the psychologist asks if I have ever even fished for bonefish I will say "No... but I might."  My family will be trying to calm me down or complaining about the stench of old squirrel tails and head cement while I wildly stalk around trying to find my favorite Sage hat from thirty years ago- you know, the one with all the fish mojo.  All this speculation is freaking me out... I need to go fishing.  But man that clouser box has still some room in it...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SBS- Articulated Leech

Articulated Leech:

         This is a pattern I've been playing around with.  Borrowed different parts from different flies.  This thing has great action and really fished well.  It rides hook point up for the most part which is nice.  I was doing well with it the other day swinging it through holes.  I am sure trout would enjoy this little guy too.  It only ends up being about 3 inches.  Also works well in olive, yellow, black and white. You can tie in multiple colors for a mottled sculpin effect.

Hooks: TMC 200R Size 6- and junk hook for shank in front.
Thread- Brown 6/0
Body- brown marabou.
Eyes- small dumbells of your choice.
Connection- .38mm Beadalon
Dubbing- Black UV Ice Dub

Start out with a size 6 or 4 TMC 200R or comparable streamer hook.

Add a marabou tail- woollybugger style.  Wrap over the stem and trim it off.

Tie in a plume on the far side, make it overlap the tail just a bit.

Do the same on the other side, tie off and whip up a nice head.  Whip finish and glue.

This is the front hook- any short shank hook will do.  I used a super cheap bait hook because I cut it anyway.

Heres the connection material- .38mm Beadalon.  Available at craft stores.  This stuff is nice because, unlike braid, it created a nice stiff loop which I think helps the fly not foul up as much.

Figure eight on some eyes on top of the shank.  Put them all the way up on the hook eye.

Cut about 3 inches of Beadalon and tie on to the top of the shank.  Make an under-wrap first to create some bite for the wire.

Stick the wire through the back portion's hook eye and make a loop by tying the wire back on the bottom of the hook shank.  Trim the tag off with cutters or your junk scissors.

I like to superglue everything at this point.  Just a dab will do ya.

I like to add this dubbing for some flash.  Any dubbing will do.  You could also leave out the dubbing for a sparser fly.

Dub a little body.


Add a marabou plume behind eyes to the top of the hook and trim it off neatly- still behind the eyes.

Add another marabou Plume to the bottom of the hook in the same manner.  You can either add some dubbing to the head for flash or just wrap the whole thing in thread until it looks pretty.

The last step is to cut off the front hook at the bend with wire cutters or pliers.  You can leave it on if you want but it tends to foul with two hooks and the action suffers.  Oh, and I also like to hit the head and body with a dubbing brush.
That's about it.  Now go stick a fish with it.