Wednesday, July 27, 2016

NET ROD TROUT - The Making Of A Custom Landing Net

I have been admiring the workmanship of Nick Taylor of Net Rod Trout for some time now.  Not only is he an excellent fly rod builder (who's built some stunning fiberglass fly rods) but also builds very unique custom landing nets as well.

A few months ago Nick emailed asking if I had any favorite flies and that he had a project in mind.  I riffled through an old fly box which held a few sentimental favorites and picked out a yellow Royal Wulff that I had caught a twenty inch Bonneville Cutthroat years ago in Wyoming.  This fly was connected to a special memory and looked forward to see what Nick would do with it.

A couple weeks ago a packaged arrived from Australia with a stunning custom landing net inside (and a smaller wooden play net for the children).  The Royal Wulff suspended in the resin looks so incredibly cool that I am thinking that this net may need to hang on the wall instead of being beat up on the stream.

I asked Nick if he'd put together a step by step tutorial to show how he puts his nets together and the narrative and photographs below do a good job of chronicling the intensive work that goes into each custom landing net.

Nick wrote...  "After ripping timber strips down to about 3mm on the table saw, the strips are finished on the drum sander to about 2.2mm. The net frame for this net is an outer and inner layer of Tasmanian Myrtle and an inner layer of Huon Pine, also form Tasmania."

"The net handle is cut on the band saw and then sanded to its final shape on the oscillating spindle sander. This net handle is a combination of American Walnut and North American Rock Maple."

"A hole is cut in the throat of the handle to take the resin set fly.  The fly for this net is set in resin, cut out, hand shaped and polished before being set into the handle."

"After sanding, the net frame strips are soaked in a warm water bath  (45C) for about 20 minutes. (I used to steam the strips but this takes much longer and can be dangerous dealing with 215 degree Celsius steam).  The soaking is done to pre-form the shape of the net and makes gluing easier."

"Once the strips have soaked, they are clamped around the net frame mould and net handle.  (Bicycle inner tube rubber, cut lengthways into long bands is a simple and efficient way to clamp the timber, negating the need to fiddle with dozens of mechanical clamps). The rubber strips enable even clamping pressure.  Once clamped, the assembly is left to dry for a couple of days."

"Gluing the net frame to the handle is done in two stages. The first stage is gluing the inner layer of the net frame to the handle to ensure a good bond with no gaps.  (Gluing all three layers can be tricky and result in imperfect bonds between the laminations). The second stage is gluing the two outer layers of the net frame.  My net moulds are shaped from 25mm High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), most glues will not stick to HDPE."

"After the glue has set, in this case 48 hours, the rubber strips are removed and the net is left for a further 24 hours to cure. Once cured, the net is run through the drum sander to remove excess glue and bring the net down to its finished width."

"The inside and outside faces of the net are passed over the spindle sander, and then hand sanded."

"The edges of the net can be hand sanded to create a round edge or on the router table with a round-over bit, 3 or 4 mm.  The slot on the outer face of the frame is also done on the router table using a single slot cutter blade and simple homemade jig to set the cut depth.
The net frame is measured along the length of the slot and divided up and marked for the holes that will allow the net bag to be strung to the frame. Depending on the size of the net frame, the holes might be 20 to 25mm apart."

"The fly is set in resin and cut out to the required diameter. This whole process is moderately complex and probably deserves an entire blog dedicated to the process. During curing, air bubbles have to be teased out of the resin while setting and the finishing process involves 1-2 hours of hand sanding and polishing."

"Net bags are made from a variety of Ace Knotless netting in either 1/8th or 1/4 inch square.  The material comes in white, so I dye it black (comes in other colours on request). The net bag is cut using a template and hot knife, then the edges over-locked using a polyester UV resistant thread."

"The resin set fly is glued into the net, my brand is applied and the timber gets 3-4 coats of finish. The finish to the timber on this net is a marine grade oil blend that has a low sheen, bringing out the best of the timber grain."

Like I stated above, I am beyond impressed with Nick Taylor's work and appreciate him taking the time to create this very special landing net.

Interested in Nick creating something special for you too?  Visit the Net Rod Trout website for more information.

NORTH 40 FLY SHOP - How to Choose A Fly Rod

You might remember North 40 Fly Shop from the interview that I did with them recently on fiberglass fly rods for their #AskNorth40 series.  They are back again and this time Tim Rajeff from Echo Fly Fishing breaks down how to choose a fly rod. 

Tim's always entertaining on video and is easily explains what you should be looking for in a fly rod.

Kudos to North 40 Fly Shop for the production value of these videos.  I've enjoyed going through their YouTube page watching many of them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The B.I. Chronicles - Weather Day Bloody Marys

While laying in bed I could hear the winding ripping through the trees outside.  Damn.  I got up and showered, dressed, and walked to the bakery a few minutes later for a coffee and to meet everyone for breakfast at 8 a.m.  There were whitecaps in the harbor and I was already figuring that we were going to have to scratch the day for weather.

While the group ate breakfast, the Captains from Indigo Guide Service hopped into Kevin's truck and went for a short drive to see what open water looked like, listen to the forecast again, and make the decision of which way the day would go.  Everyone was figuring it would be a weather day and since the day before had been so stellar, no one was complaining.  Weather happens when you're on an island in the middle of a gigantic lake.  Sure enough, the Captains returned as we were finishing breakfast with the verdict that the waves and wind were too much to mess around with.

We walked back to the house to figure out what to do with our day.  It didn't take too long for Danny Reed to get a good idea.  Let's make Bloody Marys.

A quick walk down to the grocery store for provisions and then back to the house to put everything together.  Mike Rennie fried a pan full of bacon while Danny skewered the okra, pickles, brussel sprouts, salami, olives, and meat sticks to laid over the top.  Celery was cleaned and cut.  Danny poured the McClure's Bloody Mary mixer into the pitcher with a few drops of Tabasco and Worcestershire added for flavor.  Vodka added for those who wanted vodka.  The pint glasses were rimmed with Old Bay and seasoning salt and it wasn't long before Danny was pouring everyone a drink.  What a drink it was.  Full of flavor and really, more of a meal than a drink. 

Weather days on Beaver Island ain't so bad but it was only 10:30 a.m.  What were we going to do with the rest of our day?  We'd figure something out.

A Tight Loop - Summer 2016

The latest issues of A Tight Loop is live and ready for a flip through.  As usual, Midwest fly fishing goodness abounds within the online pages.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

YETI | Stories - Kamchatka Steelhead Project

The bucket list is long and one of the places on it is Kamchatka.  The uber talented boys from Felt Soul Media have released their latest project as part of the YETI Stories film series complete with it's own micro site.

Enjoy this video and more on the YETI Stories website.

Captains For Clean Water

It's not surprising that there is more momentum building in the #noworneverglades movement and Captains For Clean Water are one more significant push for change.

Visit the Captains For Clean Water website, Vimeo, Facebook, and Instagram for more information.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The B.I. Chronicles - First Shots & A Ninth Inning Double

Every morning on Beaver Island brings a lot of anticipation but the first morning always brings much more than the rest of the week.  The Dalwhinnie Bakery & Deli, which is just a short walk from The Fisherman's House where we were crashed for the week, is the meet up each morning.  The Indigo Guide Service Captains and angler pairings are figured out, weather is checked, winds are checked, breakfast hurriedly eaten, and minutes later everyone (with typically too much gear) is at the boats ready to take off on the water for the day.

Typically pairings of who will fish with who are figured so that everyone gets an opportunity to fish with each other and work their way through the three Captains too.  Captain Kevin Morlock, Captain Steve Martinez, and Captain Steve Adduci all bring a different angle to fly fishing around Beaver Island and I always gain something important from each of them through the week. 

Since most of the group really didn't care if they caught carp or smallmouth on the first day and Tim Daughton and I really wanted to concentrate on carp, we opted to fish with Captain Kevin Morlock.  I think I've mentioned it before, but he'll fish for smallmouth if he has too but if there is any chance to find carp, then we look for carp.  That's why he's on Beaver Island and that's where the focus should be.  I get it and Tim and I were on the program.

The boats all went in different directions and the first couple hours were spent in our boat looking for warm water and concentrations of carp.  It took a little bit but we found some warming flats which were bringing singles, doubles, and triples onto them.  No matter how many times I've been to Beaver Island, I am always amazed by the clarity and color of the water.  It just lights up in shades of blue, green, and tan depending on the depth and bottom structure.

Tim and I traded spots on the bow through the morning and I had my first connection on a solid carp that I spied cruising up against the shoreline line coming left to right.  I led the carp by fifteen or twenty feet, like you're supposed too, with the fly landing a few feet past the line he was slow cruising.  As he approached, I moved the fly in front of his face.  The carp turned.  He was on it.  Bump.  Bump.  Captain Morlock whispered "STOP.  Let him eat it."  Sure enough, the carp moved forward and scarfed it up.  He took off on a run and a few more after that before being brought into the net.

The next couple hours were more searching, more casting, more refusals, more hangups on the bottom right when you'd expect a carp to eat.  It's all part of the game.

We were working our way back to the house and as we were coming up on a flat, Captain Morlock asked if I wanted to go work the grass while he and Tim stayed on the boat.  I am never one to pass up a chance to get out of the boat and a short walk into the grass found a small sandy bowl near the edge of the woods with bath warm water that was full of cruising and laid up carp.

I ended up picking three carp off in short order and as I was releasing the last one, looked up to see Tim's Helios doubled over on a good carp.  I began walking through the grass to get a few photographs of Tim's carp and since there was a carp in the grass right in front me me, I put a fly in one more mouth walking him out to the open water to put them both in the net.

Back at the house everyone traded stories of great days on the water.  Captain Austin Adduci's boat with David Grossman and Alex Landeen put an unreal number of carp in the the net while Captain Steve Martinez, Danny Reed and Mike Rennie caught some great smallmouth and pike to start the trip.  It was smiles all around but Tim and I were thinking that there's nothing like a ninth inning double to end the day.