Archive for the Gear Category

In like a lion…

Posted in Gear, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on March 2, 2015 by stflyfisher

So it is said, however the month of March comes in, it will go out exactly the opposite. In like a lion, as in bad weather, means one should expect a gentle, lamb-like, exit to the month. And the start of March seemed very much lion-like on the eve of my 56th birthday this year. I planned to trek south to Lancaster, PA to attend The Fly Fishing Show as well as visit Cabelas and the TCO fly shop in nearby Reading.

I was on a mission to look at some switch rods. Several of the rods and brands I was interested in were either at the show or at one of the retailers nearby. And the one I had the most interest in, a JP Ross Trib switch rod, might be on hand at the Tailwater Lodge booth at the show. Tom Fernandez kindly said he’d try to have some available though he himself wouldn’t be at the show.

So I woke up early Sunday morning and with coffee at my side, looked bleary-eyed at weather.com. I had every intention of leaving at 6 am so I could get a full day of browsing and shopping in, but the weather forecast was pretty shady for starting off in the dark. It was snowing heavily already, and the forecast was for more of the same for the next few hours. I figured I’d wait for light and then hit the road.

I left around 8 am and drove down Grippen Hill without too much of a problem even though the roads were not plowed. I passed a guy coming up the steepest section – his Corolla was at a slipping crawl. That was the first moment of many where I began to question my judgement.

Being an early Sunday, the likelihood of plowing activity was not good but I thought, optimistically, the highways should be clear. I was soon on Route 17 West and found the highway in pretty poor shape. The slow lane was clear with tracks – the fast lane was completely snow-covered. But I continued on despite it all…

I made Lancaster by noon. A fine and historic town I must say. Everywhere it seemed there was brick, colonial architecture, narrow roads, plaques speaking to history…

Lots of old brick in Lancaster - charming, but slippery after freezing rain and sleet...

There’s lots of old brick in Lancaster and it’s charming. Just beware the brick and stone sidewalks after freezing rain and sleet…

After parking, I walked to the convention center through pelting sleet and snow. I walked carefully, then decided to take a covered walk that was two steps down from the sidewalk. Wrong move – feet up in the air – followed by back, elbow, and stone stairs all colliding at once. Oh, I got up fast enough, like a pro boxer unexpectedly knocked down by an underdog. I brushed myself off and headed into the convention center entrance wondering if anyone saw me.

The convention was nice. I’ve been told the Somerset version of The Fly Fishing Show is better, but this was a first visit for me so I was impressed with what I saw. I walked around to get the lay of the land. I saw Bob Clouser, Joe Humphreys, Lefty Kreh, and George Daniel. I stopped at some of the fly tying booths, gawked at all of the fly rods and reels. I breathed it all in and thought of spring fly fishing.

The casting seminars were great. I was particularly intrigued with the casting demonstration of Joe Humphreys. He MC’d every cast, threw in puns and jokes, and made it a lot of fun to watch. It was all about simplicity and just watching him made it all seem so easy.

Joe Humphreys and a beautiful brown trout.

Joe Humphreys and a beautiful brown trout. Picture courtesy of the Lackawanna Chapter of TU

Fly tyer Safet Nikocevic was on hand. He ties some beautiful Caddis nymphs that I had read about in a fly fishing magazine. So was Mike Hogue of Badge Creek Fly Tying – a great local fly tyer, fly fisherman, and retailer.

Safet Nikocevic at the vise...

Safet Nikocevic at the vise…

As I walked around I finally spied the Tailwater Lodge booth. Two nice ladies were at the booth, but I saw no fly rods. I was expecting a rod rack and possibly some other gear but the exhibit was only about the lodge.

Tailwater Lodge offers some great accommodations on the banks of the Salmon River. The reps at the booth were as accommodating as this picture suggests...

Tailwater Lodge offers some great accommodations on the banks of the Salmon River. The reps at the booth were as friendly and welcoming as this picture suggests…

After a few laps of the exhibits, I thought I’d better at least ask about whether the rods had made it down to Lancaster. I approached the booth and before even opening my mouth to inquire, I was immediately greeted with, “Oh we have two rods for you…”. I assembled both rods, gave them a wiggle, and admired their beautiful fit and finish.

The JP Ross Trib Switch Fly Rod...

The JP Ross Trib Switch Fly Rod… (picture courtesy of JP Ross Fly Rods)

It’s not a first for me, being a JP Ross fly rod owner. I purchased a Beaver Meadow 7 foot 4 weight 2 piece years ago and was utterly impressed. I soon put the rod to good use on the creeks and small streams of the Southern Tier.

A nice little Cayuta Creek brown thanks to JP Ross and a Picket Pin wet fly...

A nice little Cayuta Creek brown thanks to JP Ross and a Picket Pin wet fly…

I also purchased a workhorse of an 8 weight that has done double duty for smallmouth bass and steelhead.

A nice smallie that inhaled a double bunny streamer. Delivery courtesy of a 9 foot 8 weight JP Ross fly rod...

A nice smallie that inhaled a double bunny streamer. Delivery courtesy of a 9 foot 8 weight JP Ross fly rod…

This switch rod is designed primarily for trib fishing for browns, rainbows, steelhead and salmon. I plan on putting it to work on the Salmon River this spring for hungry dropback steelhead.

Two JP Ross Trib Switch rods, ready for duty...

Two JP Ross Trib Switch rods, ready for duty… (picture courtesy of JP Ross Fly Rods)

Beauty and the beast. I've found these rods to be both beautiful to own and sturdy fishing tools...

Beauty and the beast. I’ve found these rods to be both beautiful to own and very sturdy fishing tools… (picture courtesy of JP Ross Fly Rods)

After going over the rods thoroughly, I knew I couldn’t walk away. They felt too good in my hand. The Salmon River called to me and I decided to bring the 8 weight home.

I spent a little more time at the show but decided I best leave by 3 pm. I was advised by Mike Hogue that the bad weather was not letting up. So with rod tube, fly tying supplies and other miscellaneous tackle in hand, I set out for a long drive home. A 3 hour drive gradually lengthened to 6 hours – 6 steering wheel death-gripping hours, with my side still hurting like hell. Cars littered the side of the highway – snow plows came out in force. Darkness overtook the light. I drove on, just wanting to get home.

I finally got to the base of Grippen Hill, and after looking up a steep climb, the road deep with virgin snow, decided that March had indeed roared in like the King of the Beasts. After a long bitterly cold winter, it seemed like spring was ages away, not a mere 21 days. At least tradition promised a lamb on the other side.

 

 

 

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The things I carry…

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on September 21, 2014 by stflyfisher

The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water. Together, these items weighed between 12 and 18 pounds, depending on a man’s habits or rate of metabolism.

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

 

In the movie Platoon, there’s a scene where the young, battle-seasoned Sergeant Elias checks the packs of his new grunts (Chris and Gardner) and pulls out, one by one, what they were instructed to carry in boot camp, but what they wouldn’t need in the jungles, swamps and mountains of Viet Nam. These things, after all, have to be ‘humped’ as a grunt would say, and weight in that hot and steamy environment could snuff the life out of any fighting man.

Grunts humping 60 - 80 lbs or more of gear into the bush of Viet Nam...

Grunts humping 60 – 80 lbs or more of gear into the bush of Viet Nam…

I think of this scene every time I pack my vest for fishing. What do I really need? What can I expect on the water? What do I need in order to fish safely? Will I be equipped for the weather? Will I be equipped for the fishing?

I typically pack tubs – one each for the type of fishing I do – a warmwater river tub, a tub for the trout streams of the Catskills, a tub for trout creeks, a smaller tub with pond gear, a tub for the salt…  So before I head out to “the bush”, I’ll take the appropriate tub and pack it in my car along with my wading gear, my rod and tackle, and my vest. I’ll carry these things in my vest, in my fishing shirt, or around my neck and on my wading belt:

  • Bottle(s) of water
  • Cell phone
  • Waterproof watch
  • Rain jacket
  • Wading staff
  • Toilet paper
  • Tippet spools
  • Lanyard with nippers, tie-fast knot tying tool, forceps, leader straightener, small triangular file
  • Thermometer of IR water temp gauge
  • NY State Fishing License
  • Extra reels and/or spools
  • Landing net
  • Split shot
  • Indicators
  • Leader wallet
  • Rigged fly rod / reel
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen, lip balm
  • Fishing hat
  • Extra clothing and/or gloves (weather dependent)
  • Heat tabs (weather dependent)
  • Fly boxes (fishing dependent)
  • Topo map
  • Lunch / snacks

I can fill out a vest pretty well, and all of that has to be humped, sometimes good distances, while wading. I won’t pretend that it is anywhere near the weight hauled by a grunt in Viet Nam. And in almost all cases, there’s no threat of being shot, but still…

Some of the things I carry on the West Branch of the Delaware...

The things I carry on the West Branch of the Delaware…

Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, also writes about the weight that soldiers “humped” in Viet Nam. He gets pretty technical very early in his writing – spouting off military acronyms for all sorts of weaponry and gear – most of which I recognized from my own military experience and my fascination with military history. But the real story he writes is about the other things the men carried and the things that truly weighed them down – their worries, their fears, superstitions, girlfriends, troubles back home… In the face of battle, staring at death, scared out of one’s wits, a man faces what is truly essential, and I suppose after such experiences, is cleansed of what truly doesn’t matter. But then again, those very experiences added weight to their drooping shoulders on the way home, if they made it home. As we are seeing now, much of that does come home. O’Brien writes a chapter about one soldier he served with who survived the war in Viet Nam, but sadly, not at home.

I will admit that I carry some of those things too when I head to the water. I try to fish without weight, but sometimes the matters of daily life jump on. I may be swinging a wet fly, dead drifting a nymph, or stripping a streamer only to have work, family, or other worries grab onto my line and claw their way up to my very being. But I will also say that fishing often dissipates the very darkness that intrudes. The wondrous scenes of nature – an eagle flying overhead, a mink slipping along the bank of a river, the autumn colors of trees, the rush of water, the incredible camo of a smallmouth bass, the green of the back and the rose of the side of a rainbow trout brought to net, the throb of the head shake, the jump a fish gives for freedom…

I have carried many burdens as all of us do. But fly fishing is often the outlet that vaporizes them.  The tug on a line is magic to me. And has saved me…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Salmon River Conversion to Darn Tough Socks

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 19, 2014 by stflyfisher

In a scene from the movie “Forrest Gump” – a Southern Tier Fly Fisher favorite – Forrest and his good friend Bubba are introduced to Lt. Dan Taylor, their platoon leader. Lt Dan, as he is referred to by Forrest, is a pretty straight-forward type of military leader who instructs his “FNG’s” in a few basic essentials on his way to visit the hooch. Among his words of advice is the following:

“There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks. Cushioned sole, O.D. green. Try and keep your feet dry. When we’re out humpin’, I want you boys to remember to change your socks whenever we stop. The Mekong will eat a grunt’s feet right off his legs.”

LtDansocks

Most of us anglers have some idea of the importance of Lt Dan’s advice. Socks can make a huge difference to the fly fisherman, particularly in cold weather. For soldiers in combat, proper foot-wear is even more critical. Trench foot may be the best example of what happens when soldiers don’t take care of their feet in the field. Caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions, it can be prevented by keeping the feet clean, warm and dry. Trench foot was first noted during the retreat of Napoleon’s army from Russia but it was the horrid conditions of the trenches in World War I that brought it to the attention of the medical profession. A key preventive measure that was implemented during that time was regular foot inspections by officers. It was also encountered in WWII, and in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Trench foot even made a reappearance in the British Army during the Falklands War of 1982. The causes were the same: cold, wet conditions and insufficiently waterproof boots.

A WWII GI with a bad case of trench foot.

A WWII GI with a bad case of trench foot.

So feet, it turns out, are of high interest to the military to this very day. A work colleague of mine recently told me of his time in the Marine Corps – where he and his platoon would do forced marches and then be told to sit down roadside and remove their boots and socks for a foot check by a navy corpsman…

uncover... feet!

Foot inspections – a preventive measure…

The lesson learned through all of these wars is the same: take care of your feet by wearing good quality socks and change them as often as necessary…

When it comes to good quality socks, there’s a pretty big selection out on the market these days. One could purchase a pair of authentic Vietnam-era socks, the very socks Forrest Gump would have worn in the Mekong Delta, for example.

Straight from ebay...

Straight from Ebay…

The socks pictured above are the real deal – original unissued Vietnam era olive drab green, wool cushion sole socks made of a mixture of wool, nylon & cotton material and available on Ebay for the nostalgic fly fisherman. While wool is a great material for its wicking and drying capabilities, the use of cotton these days is a big no-no. Cotton tends to absorb moisture, saturate quickly, and dry slowly – a perfect recipe for blisters and worse!

Forrest, Bubba, Tex, Cleveland, Phoenix, Detroit, Dallas, and Lt. Dan would have been a whole lot better off with today’s sock which include advanced synthetics and fine grades of wool, such as merino (click here for some good writing on the topic of merino wool and here for the general topic of dressing for cold weather).

So what would I recommend to these men or anyone venturing forth in the cold and damp? Darn Tough is the brand of sock I like. I was sold on them after spending a rather bitter winter afternoon watching my son play hockey up in Pulaski, NY, where the indoor rink temperature seemed colder than it was outside! I stood there in full shiver along with the other hockey parents – all of whom were doing the same – with one exception. Rich, who works as a NYSEG Lineman, seemed unaffected by the arctic air. He watched the game without one shake from the cold. By the end of the first period, stepping out to the concession area for hot coffee, I had to ask…

“I always used to get cold feet” he confided to me  when asked why he appeared Eskimo-like in the midst of Frigidaire conditions. As a lineman, he explained, he was frequently up in the bucket in some pretty bad weather. And he was tired of being miserable because of his feet. He searched a while for a better sock, and found them in Darn Toughs. He added that they were pricey, but the company claimed free replacement for any reason, forever. He’d yet to have to take one back – they were as hardened to wear as their label suggested.

Needless to say, I decided to give these socks a try, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I’ve been a loyal customer ever since, even buying them for my daughter who often tends the playground in Syracuse winters as a teacher’s aide. There are other brands out there, such as SmartWool, Under Armor, and Icebreaker. These are good options, but I happen to like Darn Tough’s just fine. The price tag is on the hefty side for a sock, but it’s nice knowing they’re the only sock you’ll ever need to own. Your feet will surely thank you.

Ever since my Salmon River conversion, I always let my friend Rich know how darn good his Darn Toughs are. He just smiles, asking if I’ve hooked anyone else on the brand. Turns out he finally wore a pair through. “They took them back and replaced them free of charge, just as promised”. Try a pair – they may just be the only pair of socks you’ll ever need.

There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing…

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on February 19, 2012 by stflyfisher

Blogging is a mostly lonely business. One slouches over the computer terminal in the oft bleary-eyed hours of the morning, and pounds out strings of words that on occasion resonate with a few other souls out there. A few write comments, an occasional inquiry or curiosity gets sent my way, and a few keep in touch, in response. But for the most part, it’s a solitary affair, not too different from standing butt deep in a river on an otherwise dreary day, casting, casting, casting…

So imagine my surprise when out of the bloggy depths comes a friendly email with an offer. It’s from a group that searched the internet blindly, happened to find me, and wanted to know if I would review their product – not just any product – no Acme lead-free split-shot, or arctic lip balm – no, no, no – I’m talking honest-to-goodness cold weather undergarments, real merino wool

Now, I must admit, I’ve never been much into dressing for cold weather. I remember reading about layering in my trusty Boy Scout Handbook and wearing the classic cotton long johns under cotton jeans for the infamous “Klondike Derby” camping trip (and wondering why I was still cold), but I never really understood how important it is to dress right and that in doing so, one could be pretty comfortable in down-right miserable weather. I’d just assumed being cold was part of fishing. I rejoiced when the big opener was mild and grin and bear it when winter wasn’t about to yield to April…

My intro to layering, circa 1970

So this email from a company by the name of RedRam was quite the blessing. It woke me up to something the Scandinavians have known and lived – that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. The modern fly fisher’s corollary would be, learn how to dress for the weather and you’ll never spend a bad day on the water, comfort-wise at least. And while we’re on that topic, I’ll shamelessly recommend the following series of posts at my Examiner site to my fly fishing coterie on dressing for cold weather: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 – all evidence of the fact that I now take this subject seriously.

Before I received the product samples, I hastily read up on the company supplying me with what would turn out to be the equivalent of cold weather manna. RedRam is a division of a New Zealand company known as Icebreaker, which pioneered the merino outdoor clothing category way back in 1994. It all started when our story’s hero, Jeremy Moon, was introduced by an American girlfriend to Brian Brackenridge, a merino sheep farmer she’d stayed with while hitchhiking around New Zealand. Brian showed Jeremy a prototype thermal tee-shirt made from 100% merino wool. Moon, was impressed…

“It felt soft and sensual, looked lustrous and was totally natural. It was nothing like the wool I had grown up with, which was heavy and scratchy. And you could throw this stuff in the washing machine.”

Moon saw opportunity in a market of synthetic fibers and decided to challenge it by making natural performance garments.  Synthetics dominated the outdoor clothing market at the time. “Don’t talk to me about wool. Wool is dead,” a buyer reportedly told Jeremy on his first sales call. And so, his company, to be named “Icebreaker”, invented the world’s first merino layering system, and was also the first outdoor apparel company to source merino directly and ethically from the growers.

A Merino Ram - company spokes-sheep straight from the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

So going along the theory that science and chemistry make life better, why buy merino? Well, it seems that mother nature has a habit of “bringing it” to modern science on occasion. Merino sheep, it turns out, have a bit of an edge in terms of “time in the field”. The breed dates back to the 12th century, when merino sheep arrived in Spain where the line was cultivated and refined. Merino thrived in Spain, becoming a prized royal flock whose wool was widely used in soldiers’ uniforms and as a mark of wealth and privilege in luxury clothing. By the 18th century, merino wool was a precious commodity, coveted throughout Europe like gold. In 1765, King Carlos III of Spain presented a select flock of his rare sheep to the German Elector of Saxony, thus beginning the spread of merino throughout the world.

Merinos  that supply their wooly shearing to RedRam and Icebreaker spend their days roaming high in the spacious Southern Alps of New Zealand. Their coats can handle all extremes of weather – from subzero temperatures in winter to scorching 90+ degree days in summer. And since merino wool is 100% natural, the product of grass, water and sunshine, and also renewable and biodegradable, it helps assure that blockage of the Straits of Hormuz, world domination by Dr. Evil, and other potential disasters, won’t interfere with our desire for comfort in the elements.

"Throw me some freakin merino wool..." Surely Dr. Evil's cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, could stand some warmth...

Merino sheep are shorn each year – then return to the mountains to grow more “underwear”. Unlike cotton and synthetics, they use very low-energy production processes. The garments that use this silky smooth, super light wool provide the warmth of a heavy sweater without any of the bulk, mainly because of merino’s finely crimped fibers, which create millions of air pockets to capture body heat. And no matter how active you get when wearing merino wool, it won’t get smelly. Synthetic fibers have a reputation to stink from sweat but Merino is far more efficient at releasing sweat and moisture.

My product was shipped to me neatly boxed and feather light, so light, in fact, that I wondered if the packer had forgotten to pack the stuff, and then, upon finding the individual packages, if this wool could possibly be all it was claimed to be. It was soft, smooth, and light-weight, and oddly, almost cool to the touch. I found the distinctive red tag, and sure enough, the bold “PURE MERINO WOOL” claim beneath the brand…

 

You'll look almost as good as you feel with RedRam undergarments on. They tend to have a slimming effect - heck, I lost 10 pounds with one wearing...

RedRam undergarments are available in a number of different styles and different colors. I was sent the tank top, long-sleeved top, long-sleeve zip top, and the leggings, but boxers and a short sleeve top can also be purchased.

I wore my RedRam undergarments on a number of fly fishing trips, ranging from several outings on beautiful Salmon Creek in Ithaca, NY, in the fall, to a day-long outing fly fishing for steelhead on the famed Salmon River in early December. Weather ranged from frigidly cold mornings – you know, the kind where you have to strip the ice from your guides on almost every cast – to pleasantly cool fall afternoons  and absolutely miserable wet and cold conditions.

Looking upstream on Salmon Creek, home to spawning Landlocked Salmon from Cayuga Lake...

In all cases, I never found myself uncomfortable – not from the scratchy / itchy feeling that wool has a reputation for, nor from being cold. In every case, I did find I didn’t have to layer as much as I originally thought and ended up peeling off layers as movement and/or daylight generated warmth. As thin as the product appears, be careful to not over-layer as this product not only wicks but insulates as well. I also found RedRam’s claim regarding merino wool’s ability to be odorless, even after a day of rigorous wading, to be spot on.

But these undergarments, as stated by RedRam, are truly “EVERYDAY WEAR”. They can be worn just as easily in the office as they can as a baselayer for rugged outdoor conditions.

I plan on adding to my inventory of this great product – more leggings, the boxers, and more of the zip-top which is great for dumping extra heat when the need is there. I also plan on trying the short-sleeve top in summer conditions. I’m curious how this great product’s claims stack up to a hot day wading the Susquehanna for smallmouth bass…

Stay tuned and tight lines…

Spoons and Pie

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on March 11, 2011 by stflyfisher

My loyal readership will likely remember this blog’s not-so-distant discovery of a titan of enterprise, a skunkworks of technological wonderment, and a darling of Wall Street not too far from the Southern Tier. Lest you have forgotten, click here for a diatribe on the Sutton Spoon Company of Naples, NY.

Sutton's corporate headquarters - conveniently located next to the chinese restaurant where corporate takeovers are regularly planned...

You can thank STFF staff member, master swimmer and long-ago side stroke champion Kelly, born and bred near the place, for turning my attention to this world-class lure-maker. Kelly is still a regular visitor to the sprawling metropolis of Naples and soon after the Christmas holidays, returned with new tales of that oh-so-special place on the south end of Canandaigua Lake. Indeed, I felt much like Thomas Jefferson must have felt at the return of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

First came the pictures from Kelly’s winter expedition:

Christmas in full splendor - one stop shopping for the entire family...

Kelly had to literally press through throngs of people, all waiting to see what Sutton had in their display window under their towering Christmas tree, just to get these rare pictures. But the boots, trucker-style hats complete with Sutton logo, Carhart clothing, wool socks, leather work gloves, ice fishing tip-ups, and WD-40 all paled in comparison to the tray of gleaming spoons of every Sutton shape and size…

Sutton's crown jewels, shimmering like so many diamonds...

And then came the goods. I’m not talking about beaver pelts or Yukon gold – I’m talking a whole, beautifully boxed, thickly filled, grape pie. Yep, grape pie made with the best grapes this side of the Napa Valley – concord grapes – a native american variety – and, no less the same grape that makes the famed Manischewitz Wine…

Grape pie capitol of the world...

The pie came from Monica’s – another one of those Naples, NY trademarks that apparently has quite a following; hell, they’re even on Facebook. Monica’s has been filling pies since way back in 1983 and one bite of just the crust will surely make you a believer in their product. The grape filling is heavenly, just tart enough to put a jump in your step and not leave you puckered up like a spawning sucker. And in addition to the fact that your pie will be neatly boxed, count on a bumper sticker or two to accompany your pie – perfect to slap on the side of your Hyde drift boat.

Spoons and pie are undoubtedly what Naples, NY is all about. I’ve yet to hear from the corporate execs at The Sutton Company regarding my new fly spoon product line…

How could that not attract a laker or two...

It could be “The Board” is still strategizing, pouring over marketing reports, and hiring extra accountants to handle the influx of greenbacks that is surely to follow such a product announcement. Or, maybe they’re a little reticent – you know – the whole “straying from our core business” thing you hear so much of these days from the talking heads of CNBC. If that’s the case, I now know just how to sweeten the deal…

Corporate persuader?

Tight lines…

Spring thaw

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Gear, Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 13, 2010 by stflyfisher

The spring thaw is in overtime mode and that’s fitting given the health of the STFF Overlord (that’s me). The stuff I’m blowing out of my head looks a lot like the stuff hanging over the northeast at the moment…

Get your arc ready...

Forget about fishing this weekend. And with this heavy rain combining with rapid snowmelt, who knows what the story will be even next weekend. So, in an attempt to put a Ned Flanderesque spin on the whole dreary state of affairs, I’ll blog on what we can do while we watch the rebirth of the movie Waterworld all around us…

The future STFF headquarters?

For one (admittedly a shameless plug), we can hop on over to my examiner.com website and check out an article I published on getting ready for spring fly fishing. Make lemons out of lemonade and make sure you purchase the appropriate licenses, get your boots refurbished by the local cobbler, and start breaking out the gear for spring cleaning. I’ll be posting some specific articles on gear prep during the week.

Other things to do include:

1) Reorganizing and re-stocking your fly boxes.

2) Making sure you have all your accessories in order.

3) Checking your inventory of terminal tackle, such as leaders, tippet, shot, and strike indicators.

4) Reviewing last year’s journal and getting a 2010 journal if you don’t already have one.

Obviously, if you are a tyer like STFF’s very own Staff Hydrologist Dan, you’re more than busy whipping up the patterns that worked so well last year. Hopefully Dan is doing that very thing as I write – I asked him just last week to tie up some picket pins for another upcoming Local Favorites post and to supplement my own meager stash.

Killing machine...

Tight lines…

Good Gear – The Seiko Monster

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 31, 2009 by stflyfisher

I’ll admit I’m a watchie.  I get the watchie genome from my Dad, and only discovered this mechanized-kronos addiction in the middle-aging of my life.  Dear old Dad, you see, kept showing up in retirement visits, wrist-clad with different timepieces – chronometers, hoitey-toitey dress watches, dive watches, sport watches – and they appealed to me…

One day I found this thing called ebay, and I might have well been a drunk living next door to a tavern, because over a few years I built a timepiece collection (true watchies would never call it a watch collection) of some 11 watches – err, timepieces.  It started with a basic Seiko design – the Seiko 5 (also recommended as a great, inexpensive, all-round beater watch) – and soon carried over to others in the Seiko brand, most notably the vaunted “monster” – a dive version of the Seiko 5 on steroids…

thepurists.com_seiko

Seiko monster steel - WEC Extreme Cage-fighting certified (pic courtesy of thepruists.com)

At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this diver watch.  I don’t scuba and I don’t snorkel, so why would I purchase such a mass of ticking steel? I tried to ignore it, but the watch grew on me.  I took a liking to its bullet-proof looks.  Could it be, I wondered, the “uber” fly fishing watch, if there were ever such a thing?  Eventually, I broke down and bought the orange monster, and after giving it a thorough field test for the past year, I contend this is a great fly fishing watch. Follow with me to find out why…

All monsters  feature, first and foremost, a screw-down crown for deep dive water-resistance – in this case good for 200 meters.  While it’s doubtful you’ll ever truly need 200 meters of water resistance while fishing (you could wear it scuba diving at the bottom of Seneca Lake – the deepest of the Finger Lakes at 600+ feet – looking for that Orvis Helios you dropped overboard), it is a nice feature that assures a huge margin of safety for any type of immersion that might be encountered – streamside or surfside.

skx781_feature

Here fishie, fishie, fishie...

In addition to water-tightness, the heart of the monster beats to the tune of the legendary Seiko automatic 7S26 movement.  For the watchie newbies out there, an automatic movement never needs winding as long as the watch is worn.  Movement of the wrist causes the cams in the watch to move and in effect, wind the watch.  The 7S26 boasts a power reserve of over 42 hours, meaning the watch can continue to function without motion for just shy of 2 days. Some automatic movements offer features referred to as hand-winding, meaning the watch can also be mechanically wound (i.e., you can wind it by hand every day, never wind it, and the watch still ticks away).  Some also off a “hacking’ feature, meaning that pulling the crown outward stops the movement for time synchronization.  The monster offers neither of these, but then again, these features come at a serious price adder.

Deep in the monster’s steel-encased chest cavity, the 7S26 ticks away at a relatively slow 21,600 bph (beats per hour), a pulse that won’t get you the precision of the Omega on the hoitey-toitey Orvis and Hardy flyguy upstream of you, but one that is surprisingly accurate for its price; from +8 – +12 seconds a week to under +5 seconds a week after break-in, according to some reports I’ve read.  Some inaccuracy is very desirable for a fly fishing watch when you think about it, i.e., “gee honey, I couldn’t have been late for the opera – my watch said it was 9 pm, the time we agreed I’d leave the river”).

Where you really want this watch to shine is in its ability to withstand abuse, and it’s in this department that the monster really roars.  The 7S26 automatic uses Seiko’s patented Diashock shock protection which is based on the ingenious use of a soft plastic spacer ring in the movement and a relatively low mass rotor.  In combination with a massive steel case, this provides a great deal of additional shock resistance to the watch.  Bang it up while wading the boulder-studded pocket water of the West Branch of New York’s Ausable River, and you’re assured you won’t be late for happy hour at the local tavern.

the 7S26 movement - get your moter running...

The big heart of the monster - the automatic 7S26 movement - get your motor running...

The orange monster face is fishing-cool, and not coincidentally has been tested to show best under water (monsters also exist in black, blue, yellow, and most recently, red).  The monster’s watch case is 41.5 mm across and 12.5 mm thick, adding to its big, visible, and rugged looks.  The three hands and hour markers are filled with Lumibrite…

Lumibrite at work in low light conditions...

Lumibrite at work in lower light conditions (courtesy of John B. Holbrook II)...

What you'd see while fishing for those big nocturnal browns...

What you'd see while fishing for those big nocturnal browns...

Other monster features that make it a must-have in your fly fishing arsenal are a Hardlex (mineral) crystal, quickset day and date display, and a uni-directional bezel with minute marks.  My orange monster is equipped with the black ribbed Seiko dive watch band.  Besides its comfort and great looks, I found this band offers less opportunity to scratch that nice fly rod you might be cradling in your arm.

Orange monster with optional black rubber dive band...

But I’d suggest buying the monster with the standard solid-link brushed stainless steel bracelet that is both incredibly sturdy and heavy enough to balance the hefty watch it holds.  It is a very secure bracelet, featuring a two-button folding case with safety and a wet-suit extension clasp for those who fish and dive.

MonsterOpenDiversExtension

Monster bracelet with security clasp and wet suit diver extension - courtesy of pmwf.com

After taking delivery of your new fly fishing companion, hop on over to one of the many watch stores on the internet and purchase the soft rubber Seiko dive strap.  Change out the watch bands for fishing use, knowing you have a beautiful stainless steel bracelet for formal occasions.

The price of this watch is very affordable at $100 – $150 online.  You’ll find a lot of these watches on ebay auction.  There are other automatic divers out there with similar features, but there’s nothing like having a monster by your side…

Tight lines…