Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some lessons learned today!

I was sick of reading and talking about this sport and today I took my fly rod (nothing special but it is my first) to the river by my house and tried to learn how to cast. It was an absolute blast and nearly three hours passed in a blink of an eye. I can't wait to get back out there and reduce some of the mistakes I made today.

Now if there were cameras recording this I probably would win America's Funniest Video Grand Prize; however, by the end I actually was getting close to where I was aiming. And this is where the title of the blog comes from. First and foremost I have to learn how to tie some knots and fast. I realized that I didn't have any tippet material on my leader (rookie mistake) and attempted to join the two (frustration won out and I stuck with just the leader). I may be wrong but I think this impacted my casting (that is my story and I am sticking to it).

Another thing that happened was I saw bugs dancing on the water and having a Smokey Mountain Fork Tail (thank you again Alan) bouncing along the water top with them was special. Being a spinner guy I have see dragon flies "kiss" the water before but today was different because I was the competition (maybe, sort of, kind of) with these bugs. It is funny how a different perspective can change sometime you have viewed a hundred times before.

The water finally has receded and the banks were dried out enough so they  could support someone. This is the stretch of the river that I casted on today.

It was a little windy and now I have experienced firsthand wind knots and tangled lines. I caught a couple of trees too. A plus is I didn't hook myself. My dues certainly haven't been paid yet (if they ever are) but I have at least put down a deposit for my latest passion. 

Another lesson I learned is if I want to smoke a cigar (today's choice was a Perdomo Champagne 10th Anniversary) I need a windproof lighter.

As my time on the water drew near to the end, I really was getting more comfortable casting. This is in no way implying that I have it down because that is not the case; however, I am no longer as anxious about what will happen when I load the line and launch it toward the water.

It is suppose to snow here tomorrow so I may not get out again for several days but I can't wait to get back to the river.

I really am not trying to catch trout now (although if it happened I would be ecstatic) because I have to focus on technique; however, the time is approaching fast and I can't wait to pursue trout with a fly in earnest.

One question: how much tippet should I add to the leader?

Any other suggestions are welcome.


  1. It's good that you were able to give it a go, not so good as far as the weather gos for the next day or so.

    As far as leaders, and tippets are concerned I can tell you what I do. Since I fish small streams I use a braided leader which is about 3 feet long. To that I'll tie on a tippet of about 4 feet. This works for me very well. Tippet sizes depend on water conditions. Very clear low water I'll use 7x, higher off colored water 5x. But 90% of the time I'll use 6x. Use a good quality brand of tippet material.

  2. Thanks Alan. I have 4x tippet material made by Umpqua.
    Have you ever heard of this brand? What are a couple of good brands for tippet material? This weather is for the birds but it could always be worse.

  3. The length of the tippet depends on the situations. Very clear water and/or finicky fish will require longer and smaller tippet while murky water might let you get away with more heavy tippet. Also depends on the size flies your using. Try putting a size 24 dry fly on a 4x tippet..... :)

    Umpqua is a pretty decent brand, I use their material to tie my own leaders. Scientific Anglers is another good brand that I use a lot. I've never tried it, but I know a few people that swear by Frog Hair brand. It's a bit on the pricey side though...

    A good rule of thumb on tippet size is to take your hook size, divide by 3 and you'll have your leader size. So if your using a size 12 fly, divide that by 3 and you get a 4x tippet.

  4. Thanks Anthony for the good advice. Now I will have to figure out the hook sizes of the flies I have.

  5. Umpqua is a good name, although 4x might be a bit heavy.

    I use Orvis Mirage. Again this is what's worked for me.

  6. It being a bit heavy might explain somethings.
    How much snow did you get?

  7. It was hyped to a biggie.
    I counted 17 flakes of snow.

  8. Mac, I use Rio along with all the others mentioned. (usually whatever I can find cheaper)I would say that a braided leader is definitely something you want to try and I agree with Brk Trt with a 3' braided and 4' tippet tied to that. A 5wt leader works for me most of the time and I slip up for spooky fish and clear water and down 1 size occasionally when necessary.

  9. Thanks Howard. I am guessing that the correct tippet will help with one of the problems I saw. I also don't believe the leader is that long so I will have to check. Did your office mates survive April Fool's Day?

    Alan....we got a few inches north of Boston; however, it seems like the weather and the Red Sox might have been over-hyped. If the Sox lose today, then perhaps the more optimistic types will come back to reality (i.e. they won't go 162-0). Ellsbury looks good out of the gate. It is only the 7th inning so there is still a chance they can pull this game out. If they lose, then it will be interesting to see what the Boston Herald's headline will be (my guess "wait 'til next year).

  10. Ed,
    Good to see you got out there. One thing you probably want to try is learning how to roll cast. This will help in situations where there is not enough room for backcasts.

    For leaders and tippet this is what I typically do. I start with a 9ft 4x leader. To that I attach about 2 ft of 4x tippet. The reason I do this is most of the time I am fishing size 12-14 wet flies. Now if I were to go down a size to say size 16 I might add on some 5x tippet. If I am fishing dries I would probably add on 3ft more of 5x tippet. If I were exclusively fishing small flies or dries I might start the process with a 5x leader or smaller but up until now I haven't done much of this (though I want to).

    A big reason for using tippet material is that as you change flies you will find you have less and less tippet. SO you will need to refresh the length periodically. If you were to just tie to the leader it is tapered so as you cut back into it casting performance would be impacted.

    I would say you are good with the leader and tippet material you have. You might want to get some 5x tippet. If you find your self fishing small dries you can always get into the real small 6x and 7x stuff. As with most things fly fishing you need to find what works for you.

  11. Mike it was great to be out there and finally "doing" rather than talking about it. Thanks very much for the advice and I agree that over time I will figure out what works best but the feedback people give me keeps me away from some dead ends. I need all the help I can get

    I have Orvis' catalog and I will buy some 5x tippet material.

    Have you ever used a "no knot" leader system? It states it saves time and that is appealing to me at this stage of the game.

  12. I have never used those but they sound similar to the leader setup Alan was talking about. Those use a loop to loop connection to eliminate the knot. I have heard a lot of good things about that type of setup..I just have never bit the bullet and moved in that direction. I like to use a surgeons knot to tie on the tippet. It is probably the easiest to tie on

  13. I think I will buy the "no knot" just to try it out. I was looking at the animated knots website last night and I will start practicing a few knots before I go casting again. The surgeon knot seems to be one of the more popular ones so I will give that a go today. Thanks Mike.

    By the way, that part of the Shawsheen I told you about has plenty of rainbows. I was talking to fisherman the other day and he told me that when he goes there early in the morning he sees plenty of them. He does spin-casting for bass so he isn't interested in the trout (easy doesn't make him a bad person. He'll see the light as I did one day),