Monday, September 26, 2016

Revisiting the Orange Parson

Dr. Pryce-Tannatt's Orange Parson

         For as long as I can remember, orange has been my favorite color.  Probably without coincidence, Dr. T.E. Pryce-Tannatt's Orange Parson has long been my favorite classic salmon fly. Though I have tied this fly several times before, I had never tied it with 100% genuine materials. I always used substitute materials for the Cock of the Rock throat and wing veil as well as the Blue Chatterer cheeks. I have a small stash of both that have been sitting in my closet for too long. The other day, I decided I couldn't hoard them forever and it was the right time to use them. I have been redecorating my basement practice/teaching studio. I have an empty frame that should fit this fly well. Best of all, I still have enough Cock of the Rock left for one more, should the urge ever strike again.

An "after shot" of a previous Orange Parson (tied with subs)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Don't Abuse, Reuse

Cheap TV stand/rod tube rack

     A few months ago, I was preparing to bring a load of trash to the dump. The vast majority of it was cardboard, headed for the recycling bin. As I carried some cereal and food boxes to my car, I looked at my wife and said, "Look at all the trash we generate. It's unbelievable. Imagine this times several hundred million people." 

     Along with the usual plethora of cardboard, I had some scrap wood to bring to the dump on my next trip. One item on its way out was an old television cabinet. It's a cheap, particleboard, department store piece. We had no more use for it, so what do we do? Bring it to the dump! But wait a second...I took another look at it. Maybe I could find a use for it. No, that would just make more clutter. But wait, what if I could use it to reduce clutter in another part of the house? 

Reel cabinet
    With some holes drilled in it, it would make a functional rod tube rack/reel cabinet. Until recently, I kept all of my rods and tubes in the garage. I have a good place for them, but I never liked having all those rods in the garage, especially at times when we leave the doors open. The likelihood of theft is probably low where we live, but I still worry about it now and then. I don't need access to all of the rods at once, so I decided to keep only what I'll use at any particular time in the garage. 

     I used hole saws to make three different size holes in the top of the cabinet. It was a piece of cake and I could fit almost all of my tubes in it. The bottom of the cabinet was the perfect size to hold my fly reels. I stashed the cabinet in the basement and put a child lock on it (there's a little guy here who likes to peel line off reels). It's not exactly an "heirloom piece," but I felt good about getting more use out of it and not trashing it. This summer, I was able to repurpose some other household items. 

Whiteboard...helpful for us disorganized folks

     Without a doubt, the most significant recent addition to my fly tying room has been a whiteboard. I often struggle with having multiple thoughts zipping through my head at one time. I was never one to make lists despite being the perfect candidate for them. Every time I noticed I was running out of a certain material, I wrote it on the whiteboard. When I had an order of flies to tie, I mapped it out on the whiteboard to increase my efficiency. It's just a stupid whiteboard. But, for a scatterbrained tyer like myself, it is a very valuable tool. 

Little plastic trays to curb clutter

    When I first set up my current tying desk, the drawers were fairly neat. Over the years, they've all descended into becoming "junk drawers." After getting sick of losing stuff, I decided to reorganize. I found some little plastic bins of different sizes and shapes. They were perfect for storing various small items. I enjoy not wasting as much time looking for stuff as I did before.

Contact lens case for UV resin (idea courtesy of Dr. Bob)

     This next one comes from my friend Dr. Bob. We were talking about storing UV cured resin (we both use Solarez) when he dropped this tip on me. He uses a contact lens case to store his resins. It is opaque, so no light leaks in. They are less messy than using Solarez directly from its tubes. Best of all, since the case is low and has a wide footprint, it's very hard to tip over. For my use, it's perfect.

LED Nail dryer/oven for final UV curing

     The last item was not something I found in the house. I bought it solely for repurposing it. I had read about fly tyers using UV and LED nail dryers (also called "ovens") to fully cure UV cured resins. Previously, I brought my flies outside for a final sunlight curing. After an initial set with an LED flashlight,  I now use a Vogue Professional nail dryer to fully cure the UV resin on flies. I can put four or five larger flies or tubes in at a time. I cover the opening (to prevent UV light from potentially leaking out) and let it run until the next batch of flies are ready. It works great. Maybe my wife will steal one of my items instead of the other way around.

     I'm sure there are many more items begging to be used in my tying room. I just haven't found them yet. Before the next dump run, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled and my mind open. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Late Summer/Early Fall Update 2016

A Blue Metallica for the Gasp√© Peninsula 

Fly Tying

     Sorry for the lack of recent activity here! Though I have been delinquent on the blog front, I have been tying flies like crazy all summer long. Summer is usually the time I tie an inventory of flies for fall broodstock Atlantic salmon fishing in Connecticut. Last summer, I didn't have time to tie for fall. My free time was spent writing my ebook "Flies for Connecticut Atlantic Salmon: How to Tie and Fish Them." I figured I'd have time this summer to build an inventory for fall, but destination fly orders have been coming in left and right. 

     I will be offering a couple of fly assortments for the fall season. One is a basic assortment of a half dozen flies in various sizes. The other is a slightly expanded assortment with a dozen flies. The sizes and patterns will be selected based on the conditions we're likely to see this season. Of course, √† la carte fly orders are always welcome. Check the Fly Shop page on my website for a sample of what's available. I hope to add more pics in the coming weeks. 

Conehead Ally's Shrimp Tubes for Norway

Connecticut Broodstock Atlantic Salmon Season

     We're getting into what is usually my prep period for the upcoming salmon season. Unfortunately, it's another drought year, this year even worse than last. It looks like this will be the fourth low water autumn in a row. Low water can be a drag in some ways, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the fishing will be poor. 

     Historically speaking, fall of 2013 was a low water year. The fishing was the best I've ever experienced, however. I remember feeling uneasy going into that season but, despite the low water, the fishing was off the charts. The temperatures were fairly mild that fall and we got an early start, seeing the first salmon in mid-to-late September. 

     In fall 2014, the water was even lower than the previous year. I think temperatures were a little warmer, but not out of control. We got salmon in early October, which is normal. Fall of 2014 was the worst salmon fishing I've experienced since I started fishing the lower Naugatuck River. Of course, there were still some good days, but not as many as usual. Most people I know shared my opinion that it was a particularly tough year. No one knew why. I guess it balances off 2013? 

     If the water was low in 2014, it was a trickle in fall 2015. The water was so low, I was begging for the low water of 2013. Flows of 120 cfs, which would be low for October, were a dream when they happened. This scenario made me really uneasy. In the end, it wound up being a pretty good season overall. It wasn't 2013 good, but the long stretch of warm weather made the river fish well from October into mid-January. It was probably more of an "average" season in terms of catches from October to December, but the extra long stretch of warm weather made for some pretty spectacular days in the late season. Numbers wise, it was second only to 2013 for me. So, we had lower water than ever, yet the river fished pretty well. Go figure. 

     Fall of 2016...we're not quite there yet but, unless we have a really active hurricane season, it's hard to imagine that the river will even be as "high" as it was last year. In fact, the river is at historic lows at the moment. And it has been hot as hell almost all summer. This year, I'm praying that we get salmon at all, which is not a guarantee. The recent cool nights make me optimistic, though. We might have a little later start than usual. Who knows, it might wind up being a repeat of last season. While I miss fishing in higher water (or even seasonably normal water), I won't complain about catching plenty of salmon. 

     In low water years, the silver lining is the availably of dry fly fishing opportunities. Fall of 2011 was a high water year. Although it was relatively productive, I don't think I moved a fish on a dry fly that season. I'm not sure I even tried one. Dry fly fishing can be an exciting way to fish for these salmon. 

     If you want to go out for a day, dry fly fishing or otherwise, check the guiding page on my website. Though most of my trips take place in November and early December, October is my favorite month. The fish are less numerous, but are more aggressive and fight harder while the water is still relatively warm. Floating lines, small wet flies, and dry flies make for very visual and exciting fishing. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I'm always happy to help. 

A small fleet of Bismos for fishing in Iceland


     My presentation season is starting early this year. The first one is tomorrow night! If you're free, I will be giving a presentation on Connecticut broodstock Atlantic salmon fishing at the Naugatuck-Pomperaug Trout Unlimited meeting. There are more presentations to come, so check my News & Events page for all the dates and times. If your organization is interested in booking me for a presentation, I have a description of each listed on my website. Feel free to contact me for specific details on each presentation. 

The Green Pearl, headed to Nunavik, Quebec

Blog Updates

     I apologize for this post being one long advertisement! I will definitely be more active here than I have been over the summer. Check back for fishing reports once the fall season kicks off. Also, I have some more tying tips posts planned, as well as some ideas for tying videos, and hopefully an interview or two. If there's anything you might like to see, let me know. Hope to see you on the river! 

LT Special Flamethrower tubes for the Miramichi River