Saturday, March 30, 2013

Big Thompson Fly Fishing Report 03/29/13

I had repaired my Tenkara rod and had to field test it!  The forecast called for temperatures in the 60's so I decided to fish the Big Thompson. I fished the lower section of the Big Thomson River above the Narrows and below Drake. The morning was cold and overcast; however, I didn't have any wind until later in the day. 

I saw a handful of fly fishers out with the same idea I had. It was a perfect day to help the fish recover from their winter hangovers! After killin’ the remaining coffee I had , I geared up and headed for the water.  Just a reminder for those of us in Colorado…March 31 is time to get a new license. I normally remember mine sometime in April when my buddy asks me if I have renewed mine.

The water was a crisp 38 degrees when I started.  The water flow was approximately 60 cfs according to the Colorado Division of Water Resources. The water was starting to stain slightly; however, in 2-3 feet of water, the bottom definition could still be made out.

I fished #18 ABU and black zebra midges very slow focusing on any area that looked like a fish had decided to call it a warm cozy bed for the winter. This included variations in water depth and speed, any break in the water flow, and any submerged rocks that I could make out any type of ledge. The drifts had to be very slow and the strikes were very subtle, a stop or pause in the drift.

The day was filled with beautiful scenery, wind, rain, and wind, and rain and the privilege to enjoy the beautiful bows and browns that inhabit the Big Thompson River. 

Some of the Big T’s residents…

Fish On!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tenkara Repair

Nothing beats experience and I’ll share mine in hopes that you only read about my Tenkara repair and not have to make your own.

I was on the Poudre River last week, and if you read the report on a previous post, you know I had a very nice three hours on the river. What I didn’t share with you is that I managed to break the tip off my 11’ Iwana Tenkara Rod. 

How you might ask… Head up Arse(HUA)!  I am in the Zen fishing zone and back cast with no awareness of my surroundings, mistake #1, and I snag. No sweat, I’ll get it untangled, mistake #2. I decide that I can wiggle the leader enough with the Tenkara to get enough slack in the tangle to get it to release. Mistake #3.  Now I am sure you are asking yourself why I would do something like that…HUA! I really wanted to keep the rig I had set up and of course wanted more water time instead of developing patience and practicing my knots. Needless to say, I successfully tightened the tangle and ended up with more leader tangled then when I started the process.  I had enough slack to break the leader just above the tippet material.  EXCELLENT, the leader material broke, my Tenkara was in great shape, lost my flies; however, the rod was in good shape. I began the process of attaching a new leader. I collapsed the sections of the rod until I was at the last two sections, the tip. In my zeal to break the leader, I had tightened the top two sections of the rod. I gently (read fat fingers, impatient, and HUA) pushed the sections together and snap!  The second section snapped in two pieces.  If I had gently pushed the sections together and held both ends evenly I would not have had the problem. 

Hats off to Tenkara USA! In less than one week, I had the replacement tip for the rod at my house. I broke the rod on 031513, completed a request form online with Tenkara USA on 031613, it shipped on 031913 and I received it at my house on 032113. I paid $8.50 for the repair kit. It should be noted that Tenkara USA has a no questions return policy; however, it was not their product that was the problem it was…..HUA! The customer service was exceptional throughout! 

Replacing the tip of the rod was easy.  The entire process takes 10 minutes. Make sure you have a good working space to prevent additional damage.  You will need the damaged rod, and the repair kit which consists of the replacement pieces, in this case, three sections that comprise the tip section. Work slowly and keep all the rod sections together, especially the tip section because additional strength comes from each piece supporting the next. The Lillian, the string bonded to the tip section, has a knot in it to prevent the actual tip from slipping out of the other two sections.

REMOVE THE END CAP: Keep the rod cap on the rod and remove the end cap from the base of the grip.

REMOVE THE CENTER/TIP SECTION OF THE ROD: The Iwana has 7 sections and the grip. Gently invert the grip so the rod sections slide out of the bottom of the grip. Let the sections slowly slide out into the palm of your hand; however, do not let all the sections come out of the grip. Extend each section of the rod slightly from the outside section to the tip section. This provides strength and stability to the rod. Remove the center of the rod which will consist of three pieces.

REPLACE THE DAMAGED TIP SECTION: Insert the tip section starting with the Lillian. Make sure you start with the Lillian and guide the Lillian knot into the other rod sections.

SLIDE ALL SECTIONS TOGETHER: Using the palm of your hand, slide all of the sections into the grip. I held the rod cap on one end and my palm on the other end while I gently inverted the rod slightly up and down to make sure the sections were moving smoothly and the sections were not sticking.

SECURE THE END CAP:  Make sure you do not cross thread the end cap.

CHECK THE ROD FUNCTION: Make sure you have room, read outside, and extend the rod and make sure the sections extend and collapse without any issues.

Here are some additional tips from Tenkara USA.

When setting up your knots always leave the fragile hard tip inside the main segment, exposing only the string at the tip of the rod as you set up,
Never exert any sideway pressure on the rod segments when closing the rod,
Always close rod segments by holding the thickest part of the segment you're closing (closest to next thickest segment),
Handle the first 3 tip segments very carefully,

I am glad I could share the experience with you in hopes that you do not have to replace any sections of your Tenkara Rod; however, if you end up with HUA remember the Tenkara USA customer service is responsive, professional, and hassle free. The process itself was extremely easy.

Fish on!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Poudre River Fly Fishing Report 3/15/13

I visited an old friend of mine today! My friend has not been her old self and has been battling changes that occur as we journey through life. My friend looked worn and tattered when I first saw her, obviously showing the signs of recent changes. The changes were profound and the impact equally as apparent. You look for words to say that will make your friend reassured that the wear and tear is not evident, yet still they know it shows. You try to encourage and be uplifting. My friend could tell that I knew that she had been going through tremendous change. My friend is the Poudre River.

The Poudre River is recovering from the 2012 High Park fire, and it is apparent that she has been impacted by the fire and the wear and tear is obvious. One is initially grabbed by the impact the fire had on her and words do not come easy as you stand at the bank and you think about what she will still have to endure. The sediment has made stretches of the lower Poudre look like moonscape. The sediment is thick, black and has removed definition from some parts of the banks. The smell of wet sand and a slight hint of sulfur are in the air around the wet sand. 

Yet there is a confidence and a hidden strength in her that you sense and you know that she will be okay. Just beyond the silt covered banks, new life is already taking hold. Vegetation is refusing to yield to the fire, the birds are announcing that spring is here and even though winter is still refusing to let go of its grip, my friend is going to be okay! She faces additional trials as Colorado has not had the snow fall yet that we need to ensure a normal spring and summer; however, there are those that would call the drought the new normal... I am still optimistic and holding out for more snow. Mother nature will take care of her own! Although pretty bummed, I became excited about the potential and being able to be by my friend's side as she calmly and quietly went about her recovery.

Amazing, never asking for anything and always knowing that in the end she would be okay!

It was 8:00 am on Friday morning and I was surprised to only see a handful of fly fishers that were as excited as I was about the 70 degree projected weather forecast and the ability to throw some nymphs. You might recall, the last time I was fishing on the Poudre, I was standing on an ice pack. Today was different... It was clear, sunny,  and no wind. A calm sense  that is not always found along US 14 was welcoming. I drank my coffee and took everything in around me. Those that fish with me know that it takes me a while, read very slow, to get on the water. I take a few minutes to let life get placed on hold and a strange sense of meditation takes over me. I find that fishing zen place, you have all been there.

I decided to use my Tenkara and stay in the frame of mind I was in... Tenkara, chest pack, waders and sunflower seeds.  Off I went. It was a rare occasion that I was on the river by myself and not fishing with one of my fishing buddies; however, life does happen.

I appreciated the quiet. If you have not given Tenkara nymph fishing a try, find someone that has a rod and try it! I am constantly blown away by the silence when I am fishing with the Tenkara. I know you wouldn't think that the reel makes that much noise but you would be surprised. I appreciate the simplicity. I have found that given the fact that I have limited amounts of line at my disposal, I have to be better at reading the water, finding the route I am going to take, and focus on my presentation that much more. It is an overwhelming simplicity!

The sun was just peaking over the tops of the foothills. The river was wind, NO ICE, and although the water was low for this time of year I was excited about the number of holes, runs, and pockets that were yelling fish. The water was clear and the sun had not reached large sections of the river and I could see the bottom very easy. The river made the gentle white noise that drowns out our cares and helps us transport to another place. Although the air temperature was warm enough to go without a fleece jacket, the bite of the water against my boots and waders left no doubt that I should not forget that it was still March in Colorado. You could smell the wet sand, the moisture from the morning air, and the light hint of sulfur from the fire sediment. No rising fish, oh wait, wasn't looking or counting on them.

I was unsure whether or not I would find fish let alone fool them into thinking I had something they wanted. I fished for approximately three hours and I soon discovered that the fish were still in the water, holding in there normal winter lies, and where just as excited to let me know they were there as I was to know that they were there. The drifts had to be slow and close to the bottom; however, the fish had no problem letting you know when you were in the zone.

I managed to convince rainbows ans browns that I had something they wanted to eat. A few of those that made my day are below. All beautiful fish... The fish ranged in size from 8 -16. A 16 inch rainbow with a winter hang over the the fish of the day. I used a size 18 black zebra midge and a size 18 olive ABU. With the exception of two, all were caught on the ABU. The drift was very slow and I tried to stay as close to the bottom as possible.

The weather held the entire three hours that I fished. I took time to admire the resiliency and the beauty that is the Poudre River and smiled to be able to enjoy it if only for a few hours.
The fish are alive and well as we approach whatever the spring run off will be. Their next test and the next hurdle for the river will be the ash and sediment that finds its way into the river.

The Poudre is going to be the quality fishery it has always been. When you get a chance on the next trip you take, stop and appreciate how small we are. How small our worries are.  The next time you stand on the banks of your favorite home water, image the stories the river could tell if we could only understand it!

Protect your rivers, and be great stewards!

Fish On!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cutthroat Leaders

Three years ago I ran into Mike Morin at the Denver Fly Fishing Show and we spent a lot of time talking about his hand tied, custom designed furled leaders. I was immediately impressed with the simplicity, innovation and design of his leaders. We spent time talking about a new leader at the time, a custom designed nymph leader that incorporated indicator material into the leader and allowed the tippet material to be attached with tippet rings. After about half an hour of taking Mike's time, which he gladly gave, I purchased a couple of nymph leaders and dry fly leaders for my fishing partner. We have fished those leaders ever since and have had tremendous success with them. We have used them on our Tenkara rigs, nymph fishing, and he has enjoyed great success with his dry fly rig. If you read my previous post on, Reducing Fish Mortality, my fishing partner, JT, forwarded me some information from Mike's newsletter the inspired the post.

When I asked Mike for permission to re-post the information, he agreed to take some time out of his day to tell me a little more about his company.

Tell us a little bit about yourself...

I am originally from Back east, Just north of Boston.  I moved out West 18 yrs ago to fish and archery Hunt....  I was single and young.  Lived in Northwest Montana for 6 six years, just outside of Glacier National Park.  I spent much time fishing and hunting the areas in and around Glacier National Park. When I moved from Montana, I traveled much of the west fishing along the way.  Spent time in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and Idaho.  When I reached Idaho, I figured we would settle down for about 12 months and move on to different water... That was 12 yrs ago.  A few houses and a couple of kids later, we are still here and loving every minute of it. 

For those of us that do not know Cutthroat Leaders, tell us about your company...
Cutthroat Leaders is small fast growing company that is based in Boise ID.  All of our leaders are hand made here in town.   We have a rapidly growing list of very loyal customers.  We strive for 100% customer satisfaction. Word of mouth is our best advertising and it really has worked. The business began with Dry Fly Leaders Only.  We now make leaders for 0 wt rods all the way up to 10 wt Spey leaders.  We also hand craft leaders for Tenkara (Japanese style of fishing with no reel). We offer reinforced thread leaders as well as nylon and flourocarbon furled leaders. 

What do you want fly fishers to think of when they think of Cutthroat Leaders...
When fly fishers think of Cutthroat Leader Co, I want them to think Quality, American Made products that really do work.  Over the past few years, I have witnessed some very seasoned, very skeptical fly fishers turn into some of our very best customers/promoters.  This still makes me smile...We receive many emails from seasoned fly fishers after their first day on the water with our leader and they are in pure amazement. 

What is a furled leader...
Furled leaders are made similar to the making of rope, but the rope has a knot-less taper.  Makes for amazing energy transfer.  If you have coils / memory in your tapered mono leader, you are not casting as efficiently or accurately as you can.  

I understand that you make leaders by special request...
We do make custom leaders by request.  That is where many of our designs have come from.  A customer makes a request and we developed a leader that works for him/her.  After we know the leader design works well, we will add it to our list of available products. 

New Products for 2013-2014 include...
New Products for 2013-2014 are the adjustable Indicator Leader.  This is a basic leader design that many guides across the west use.   Great for fishing fast moving water, awesome on float trips.   

We are also working on a leader design that facilitates a "Dump Cast".   Great cast for getting drag free drifts.  

Also, we are expanding our saltwater line up.  As I type, We have guys right now in Belize, Hawaii, and Mexico testing out saltwater leaders.  We already have a big following in the Bone Fishing Crowd.  Accurate casting, great presentations and they cut the wind like a knife. 

 Always a pleasure to talk to Mike and he believes in being innovative and meeting your leader needs for the river!

Here is Mike's contact information!
Michael D. Morin 


Fly fishing made tremendous gains in knowledge and tactics, equipment technology, stream etiquette and an understanding of the importance of making responsible choices today that will allow us to enjoy the bounty that is found in our favorite streams and lakes. We are the stewards of the beautiful rivers, streams and lakes that we enjoy today. Each of us has to ensure that future generations can enjoy the same passion we do for the sport and all of its beauty. Conversations about the future of our sport lend themselves to the common topics...water conservation, erosion encroachment, water quality, fishing pressure and private property rights among others. But we cant forget a vital component of our sport, THE FISH!

All the fellas I fish with take great care to release the fish they catch unharmed, as most fly fishers do; however, we can always be reminded that sometime during the pursuit of the perfect digital image or digital clip, we are forgetting about the safety of the fish. My buddy forwarded me an article he read in a newsletter authored by Mike Morin of Cutthroat Leaders. I contacted Mike and asked him if I could share some of the information with those of you that might be interested and he told me go for it. You can read the entire article at

Here are some tips to help reduce fish mortality and ensure that the amazing fish that is the talk of your fishing trip, makes the film festivals or ends up on your digital clip can be enjoyed by the next person that comes along and wants to create their own experience.

The 10 second rule
Use the 10 second rule and never keep a fish's head out of the water for more than 10 seconds and give him a good 30 seconds before you lift him again. A fish's gills are remarkably efficient at collecting oxygen but the delicate membranes that extract the oxygen molecules rely on their buoyancy to keep the collecting surfaces exposed. Out of the water they collapse and are useless. A fish can't hold its breath at all because it doesn't have lungs. He is out of air as soon as you lift him from the water. Add to this that his metabolism is raging because he's been fighting for his life and you have a pretty desperate situation.

Hold them loosely
A death grip can cause serious internal injury especially to the heart. The trick is a nice loose grip. The tighter you hold a fish the more he will struggle. To control one, properly grip him just in front of his tail where there's nothing but muscle and let him just rest on a loose hand under the boney part of his pec fins and gill plates.

Barbless hooks
Barb-less hooks go a long way in reducing fish mortality from hook injuries. If you are fighting fish properly you will not lose many and if you aren't, fishing barb-less hooks will teach you to fight fish smarter and you'll be a better angler for it.

Fight with authority
Most of us are taught to play fish too long, exhausting them before they are landed. A fish that is fought with authority is landed fresher and released fresher. Keep a good angle on the fish and use good side pressure. Use the butt of your rod and you can put a lot more pressure on that fish than you think you can and land him sooner.

Use a net
The most fish friendly landing method is to not touch the fish at all. The next best thing is a net. A good quality catch and release net with a long handle and a large basket is good to use.

Protect their heads
Fish heads are not designed for hard surfaces. A seemingly benign blow to the head can end in a fish going belly up after 20 minutes or so. Protect them from the rocky banks.

Never drag a fish onto the bank
Dry land is no place for a fish and they face several dangers. It is impossible to beach a fish without disturbing his protective slime. That slime keeps out a host of dangerous bacteria and parasites. The slime will regenerate but in the meantime the fish is vulnerable. Being on the bank also dramatically increases the risk of head injury, eye injury and oxygen deprivation. If you are by yourself and want to get a photo, find a sandy spot in the margin of the water where to fish can lie with one side submerged. Cover his face with a wet hand to settle him down. Lift your hand and shoot quick.

Always wet your hands
Dry hands remove slime too. Protect the slime!

Cut the fly off instead of digging in its throat
Once in a while a fish takes a fly deep, cut the line and turn him loose, he’ll spit it out. Flies are cheap and you get practice with your favorite knot.

Revive before release
You should always revive a fish before releasing it, especially after a long fight. Hold him in medium fast current where there is plenty of oxygen. Most fish are able to pump water across their gills without the aid of current but slack water has less oxygen than current. Just hold him gently under the pec fins and he’ll go when he’s ready. If he swims a few yards rolls on his side, go get him. He needs more time.

Don’t freeze ‘em
Fish have no body heat and when it’s below freezing the delicate membranes in their gills can freeze surprisingly quick. The colder it is the shorter the time you can safely keep them out of the water. Once it’s below zero don’t lift them at all and never, ever, put them on the snow.

Don’t beat ‘um up in the heat
As water warms up it holds less oxygen. Trout can get highly stressed as water temperatures approach seventy degrees. The stress of a fight can raise their metabolism to the point that they just can’t get enough oxygen. The effects can be lethal. When water temps are high head for high elevation streams or tail waters. You’ll be cooler and the fish will stay healthy.

Thanks JT for sharing this information!

In a future post, I plan on chatting with Mike about Cutthroat Leaders, his company and sharing his approach to leader design and development.

Fish on!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wishing for Spring... Cleaning Part 2

Winter in the Rockies!
Wishing for Spring...Cleaning Part 2. We have had snow in Northern Colorado, all of which is so needed to ensure we get our snow pack up. This is part two of a two part post intended to get you messing with your gear and counting down the days to get on the water.

Lines: I have to confess, I probably don't change my lines as often as I should; however, I do remove the backing and fly line. I inspect both for wear and damage. I replace them if they need it; otherwise, I re-spool them. I am sure the fishing gods frown on such behavior, I know the line manufacturers do.

Vest: I wear a Solitude vest that was a forest green at one point in its life; however, it is now a "wish I were sage" color. The vest becomes a collection of sunflower seeds, leader material, strike indicator backings, and a collection of energy bars that found the inside of a pocket instead of in my mouth. I take everything out of the vest, and check the condition of the zippers, snaps and Velcro closures. I have a water bladder in my vest. I fill the bladder with a tablespoon of baking soda and warm water. I let this set for an hour and rinse it really good. I check the mouthpiece, hose, and bladder for damage or leaks. Always check the insides of each pocket, otherwise you may find that some of your gear has become a gift for another fly fisher who finds it along the bank or in a pullout. If you use a chest pack, hip bag, or other vest system clean and inspect them. Make sure you have an emergency contact card in your vest, enclosed in a zip-lock bag, in case you pass out due to the size of the fish you caught and the next fly fisher that comes along gets you help. Washing your vest? Go for it! I like the character each trip adds to mine so mine is ala-natural. Water repellent treatment is good to add to the shoulder area if your vest is fabric and not mesh. A number of great water repellent sprays are on the market.

Net: As crazy as it sounds the time we realize the net is broken or has a hole in it is when we need it. Check the basket material and remove the collection of flies that are still tangled in the material, and repair any holes.  Depending on the condition of your basket, you may want to get a replacement. Check the handle and the  attachment system of your net for any damage. I strongly advocate releasing the fish we catch, so when you check your net make sure it is going to land the fish but also safely release the fish without injury.
Rocky Mountain National Park Brown

Stuff: And then there is the stuff... What would fly fishing be without the stuff? The fly boxes. Check your boxes for damage especially, excessive moisture that found its way in the box and has started to rust that collection of go to nymphs. I have my name and number on each of my cases because I believe in the humanity that is fly fishing and have had a fly box returned with all of its contents! De-barb those hooks and sharpen others. Now is the time to stock those boxes - tie'em or buy'em.

The tools. Make sure your inventory of clamps, nippers, thermometers, multi-tools, and other tools of the trade you may carry are functional. If you carry any electronics, check the batteries and the battery wells. I have this knack of batteries leaking in my camera. Check the water seals and make sure they have not been damaged during the excitement of the last big one before you dropped it. Make sure you have not lost any items that you think is still in your gear.

The Leaders and Tippet. Check
your leaders and tippet material. Make sure you have a good selection of lengths and diameters for your upcoming trips. Check the leader wallet or area you keep your extra leaders to make sure that moisture has not reeked havoc on them. Get rid of all the tippet and leader material that gets mysteriously stored in all nooks and crannies of your gear. CHECK YOUR TIPPET SPOOLS...may be I am the only one that has passed on getting new tippet material because I knew I had plenty to only find out I had a plastic disc that once held tippet material.

The Nymph Gear. Replenish you strike indicators, split shot, and clean out all the extras that have found their way everywhere...

Big Thompson Brown
Things to think about: The list that follows are a few items that have served me well on the river more than once. A small first aid kit that will easily fit in zip lock bag. A lighter with a couple of cotton balls soaked with vaseline for quick fire starting.  Dryer sheets - keeps the bugs away. A sunglass lens cloth. Don't forget some wipes for that clean fresh feeling, and a couple of protein bars. Rain Gear is so light weight and packable these days, don't leave home without it.

Hydration is a must. Whether it is a water bottle or an elaborate water bladder system, have water. Sun protection is important and should include quality sunglasses, chapstick, and sunscreen. I prefer a pump or spray sunscreen so I don't get it on my hands.

Arkansas River Brown
I have had Mr. Murphy with me on plenty of fishing trips! I try my best to make sure he does not come along unless I invite him. Taking care of my gear and preparing it prior to my trips helps ensure that he at least gets invited on someone else's trip.