"Don't Move!" I told Shea. From my vantage point I could see a large tail and half of a big fish just near the bank. Shea was almost right on top of it and the tall grass was blocking his view. I peeked around the grass to get a better look. There lying just inches off the shore was one of the biggest bass I have ever seen. My rod was already rigged and I hurried to get a cast in before the fish spooked. My first cast landed just above the fish and didn't sink. I thought for sure the fish was going to take off. It didn't seem fazed. I slowly lifted the fly and made a second cast just off to the side of the fish. At first the fish showed no interest then just as the fly settled on the bottom the fish turned and slowly swam towards the fly. I could see everything, my fly, the fish and then the take. I set the hook with authority and the fish headed for deeper water. Shea and I were in disbelief. Sure you see big fish all the time but how often do you catch them and even if you're lucky enough to hook them will they stay on? The fish started to thrash and show its true size. It verified that indeed it was the biggest bass I have ever hooked with a fly. The fish shook its head and its mouth looked like it could swallow a softball with room to spare. I didn't have a net and I slid down the bank to find a good place to land the fish. The fish came close and I made a grab for my leader. The bass made another good run and I was worried it was going to snap my rod. I regained control and brought the fish over again. This time the fish brought its head up slowly and I quickly grabbed the fishes lower lip. The mouth was too big to lip with my thumb. I basically put all of my fingers in the beast's mouth and made a fist.
The fish measured almost exactly 22inches and had some serious battle scars. I wish I took more pics of the fish but I was worried about over stressing it. It's a fish I'll never forget.
I haven't tied in awhile so I decided to tie some girdle bugs for the ignorant stocked trout next month. Recently I bought some cheap Superglue from the dollar store. I normally use Zap A Gap but I thought maybe this Superglue would work just as well. After a few flies the glue started to really glob up under the cap. It was difficult to keep the glue from getting on my fingers and anything else in the area. No matter what I tried the glue kept oozing out and I started to get irritated. I finally just tried closing the cap even though a nice bubble of glue was coming out. The cap hesitated for a second seeping glue around the edges then with a snap it closed. The glue that seeped out exploded all over and my brain instantly signaled that some had gotten in my eye. At first I just stared at the glue bottle I guess assessing the situation. I started blinking and after several seconds it was getting harder and harder to open my eye with every blink. I stood up right away, yelled to my wife that I got glue in my eye and ran over to the sink. She asked me several things but honestly I couldn't hear her over my panic splashing of cupped water into my eye. I was able to open my eye fine but I was still worried it was going to gum up again. The package said to rinse your eye for 15min so I spent the next half hour in the shower. I think the amount of glue that actually got in my eye was just a trace amount. Maybe a drop, probably nothing really to worry about but it still gave me a pretty good scare.
It's been ages since I've posted something. Family priorities and the weather have been keeping me off the water. If you've been following my blog for the last year or so you know I've been trying to find the perfect fishing pack. I tried several different fishing packs. Some were hip packs, chest packs and finally sling packs. All had their pros and cons but one stood above the rest. What's funny is the pack was suggested to me long ago by Mike from Mike's Gone Fishing. We were discussing fishing gear and I was pondering the Vedavoo. While we talked more he asked if I checked out Patagonia's Stealth Atom Pack. I looked into it more and the pack looked to be the same as the Orvis Guide Sling pack. The difference was it was about $50 less. I liked that it was the sling style and had plenty of storage and a place for a water bottle. I didn't want to give this pack a review until I tested it thoroughly. I can honestly say after almost a year that this pack is the best I've ever owned. It does pretty much everything I want. The storage is amazing. The large pocket can hold two large Cliff Bugger Barns as well as another small fly box. The smaller pocket can hold another fly box and there's inner compartments for tippet, dry shake and other things. There's also a inside waterproof pocket for your cell phone and keys. I first thought I'd never use this but it's already come in handy a few times when I had unexpected swims. There's one inside pocket that's lined with felt I'm guessing for sunglasses or a GPS. Anything that has a screen you don't want scratched. The strap that goes across your chest has a pocket that can hold a small knife or fishing license. Here's a video that goes over the pack a little more.
For me this pack is perfect. I can hold a bass box with large flies as well as small trout boxes. The pack is comfortable to wear but I do find the second strap is almost useless. It's supposed to provide extra support and keep the pack from sliding around. The pack fits fine without it and I leave the second strap unclipped 99% of the time. The water bottle section can be adjusted and perfectly holds a 32oz Gatorade or Powerade bottle. I've used this pack at the beach and in the mountains. It performed perfectly. I can't find anything wrong with it. If you're looking for a great sling pack and don't want to break the bank check the Patagonia Stealth Atom Pack out.
The box is all black and each piece of the outfit had it's own slot. The fly box was nice and had the quality of the flies was pretty much what I expected. They were nothing spectacular but not horrible either. The presentation of bundle overall was top notch. When I pulled out the rod I couldn't wait to try it out. The finish is a graphite dull look which I loved. There were no instructions so I had to go with stuff I found online. Wetfly provides this video to get you started.
The rod extended easily enough but here's what this video doesn't talk about. There's a piece on the very bottom of the rod that unscrews. I was curious to what exactly this was for. I thought maybe it was a place to put your end cap. When I unscrewed it I noticed it was hollow inside. That was until my rod collapsed back into place and actually shot out the hole I was looking at. Basically the rod now was inverted and coming out beneath the cork. It was a pain to get back in the blank and get the rod to extend again. The rod is made to telescope and extend but what you don't realize is this is a fine process and if the blanks are misaligned even by a millimeter it will cause the rod to not collapse or extend properly. I learned my lesson with that. Keep the butt cap screwed in.
I was able to get the rod extended properly and setup. The 3 lines that come with the package are a furled leader, level line and tippet. The furled leader is basically braided mono. The level line looks just like regular mono and the tippet is your average tippet. When I first saw how you tie the leader to the tip of the rod I figured I was going to break this in a matter of seconds. Once I had everything setup though I found it was quite sturdy and felt more durable than I thought. I tried playing around with the different rod lengths and imagined myself casting in small streams. The images in my head quickly vanished as I fought with the rod to collapse different sections. The alignment has to be perfect or the rod will not collapse. In some rare instances you can actually collapse the tip down inside the other blanks and won't be able to get it out. Luckily I had the leader tied on and used that to help pull the tip out. This annoyed me pretty quickly. I found I would not be able to use this rod how I wanted to. The idea of collapsing the rod depending on the situation is not as easy as it sounds.
The rod was very stiff. It seemed to have an action faster than any of the rods I own. I took everything over to a local pond to test it out. Casting was a little awkward at first but I started to figure it out. I actually let my daughter have a few turns with it and she could actually cast better than I could. The key was to slow down and let the rod do all the work. Then came my next issue with the setup. The furled leader sinks. This caused my fly to sink as well. Not a huge deal but it was hard to detect strikes once the line and fly were submerged. I could have tied on an indicator but I was too lazy. Having only so much casting distance became very frustrating. There's really nothing you can do about it. If you can't wade in the water you're stuck only casting so far from the bank. You better hope the fish are with in 30ft of you or they are out of casting range. That is unless you add some line and have plenty of room to back cast. Make sure nothing is overhead as well. This rod is 12ft tall and finds branches easily. Especially in the hands of a 5yr old.
I was able to catch fish with the rod and not having a reel felt strange. I angled the rod and was able to land the fish but I'm not sure what I'd do with a significantly large fish. With this rod a large fish would be about 2lbs. The whole experience was fun but had me unimpressed. I felt limited in how I could fish which I didn't like at all. I like the ability to cast where I want and as far as I want. I also didn't like the issue with collapsing the rod. There were several times I thought the rod was moving a little or trying to collapse on its own. Worrying about this was just another annoyance. In the end I decided Tenkara probably isn't for me. I can see how the style can be attractive to others but for me it's a fad that doesn't really have an advantage over traditional fly gear. Actually you're at a disadvantage in my opinion. Fly fishing to me is difficult enough.
The main reason I considered Tenkara is I liked the logic of simplicity and being able to avoid the different currents while casting to a certain location. After my experience I'd say save your money and use a long stick for those scenarios.