Friday, June 14, 2024

THE FLYFISH JOURNAL - Summer Steelhead on the Fly

Filmed in 2017, the folks at The Flyfish Journal with a three minute respite for your day...

From The Flyfish Journal...

Columbia river steelhead are struggling. That’s old news. They’ve been having a rough go of it for a while now. But, the numbers out of the Big C and it’s feeder rivers are especially sad this summer. Unprecedented, say some officials. Early summer counts were putting just 4,000 steelhead past the Bonneville dam. That’s down from 20,000 the previous year.

There are a lot of factors to blame: dams, mismanagement, an ever-warming globe. Add to that record heat and lack of precipitation we’ve been experiencing here in the Pacific Northwest and you’ve got the makings of one of the worst summer steelhead seasons ever.

I wanted to see for myself. And, I’m lucky enough to have a buddy who has a boat. Curtis Ciszek guides for Fish The Swing and has spent more than a decade swinging for fish on the Lower Deschutes. The next day we were up before the sun and into fish in the first couple hours. Curtis had bites all morning and brought a hatchery fish to hand by the end of the day. Darcy lost a few and landed a wild one. I fell in. The wading was treacherous. But, the fishing was better than expected. As Darcy put it, “I guess it’s better to be making the report than hearing it.”

So, that’s our report of sorts from just one day on the Deschutes River.
Still trying to figure out what to get dad for Father's Day?  The Flyfish Journal is a good idea...

C. BARCLAY FLY ROD CO. - Chris's May Update Shared in June

Earlier this week I was going through old text messages and came across one from a few weeks back from Chris Barclay of C. Barclay Fly Rod Co. with a link to his "May Updates!" blog post.  I had meant to share it right after but it got lost in the shuffle of life.  Sorry, Chris...

It's still well worth a read now as Chris covers quite a lot of information, shows off some of his latest work, hints at new designs and ideas, taking orders again, and more.

Take a moment to visit the C. Barclay Fly Rod Co. website and follow along with the latest shop news on Facebook and Instagram.  And if you're a real Barclay nerd, there's a Facebook group, too.

FLY SHOP TOUR - Season 2 - Episode 6

The final episode of the second season of the Fly Shop Tour ends in Florida.  Click PLAY...

Check out the Flylords website and subscribe to their YouTube channel, too.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

406 FLY LINES - Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook

When Tom and Alexis Brodhead started 406 Fly Lines, what is going on ten years ago now, they thought they were making fly lines suited for fiberglass fly rods.  Well, they are but over time, bamboo fly rod aficionados have taken quite a market share of the interest in these wonderful modern made vintage taper fly lines that work equally well on glass or cane.  Due to this, Tom and Alexis have made quite a few friends with bamboo fly rod builders and one of those is Michael Sinclair.

30 years ago, Michael Sinclair released the Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook and to celebrate this anniversary, Tom and Michael have worked together to offer a limited edition of 100 spiral bound books which are featured on the 406 Fly Lines website.  Each copy is signed and numbered by Michael.

From the 406 Fly Lines website...

1994 - Dallas beats Buffalo in the Superbowl,  the movie "Forrest Gump" was released, and Michael Sinclair publishes the book "Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook". This seminal tome has become the definitive guide for bamboo rod builders and collectors for many years now.  Fast forward to 2024 and there is now the 30th Anniversary edition. It's not a revised edition but a faithful reprint of the original 1994 version with several upgraded features. It now has a clear plastic cover on the front and a black plastic back cover to help protect it. The paper is a heavier bond for durability and to make it easier to take notes. This edition is spiral bound as was the original. It is a limited edition of 100, signed by Mike, and individually hand numbered.

A little history of how this all came about is in order. I have known Mike for some time now and brought up the idea of reprinting his book and he was quite enthusiastic about the project. We spent the last several months discussing how to work it out and thought since it was 30 years since last published it was time to reacquaint a new crop of talented rod builders with this classic handbook.

This has been a joy for me to work on and collaborate with Mike to get this out to a new generation of bamboo builders and collectors. I asked Mike if he wanted to add anything and he said to tell everyone " I'm not dead yet. I am sure this will amaze some of you and disappoint others".

Visit the 406 Fly Lines website for more information or to secure your copy of this limited edition book.


This is a good one highlighting Omeko Glinton, known as Meko, of the Meko Experience and the environmental changes that he's seen as a generational fly fishing guide in the Bahamas.

A pat on the back to filmmaker Harrison Buck for mitigating his carbon footprint during the filming of Meko by planting over 400 mangrove trees with the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.  Every little bit helps.

RAKART - A Story of "Graduating" from Bobbers

I never get tired of warmwater art and Ryan Keene of RAK Art recently created these two pieces and posted a story on his social media that I thought would be fun to share.  Take a minute to enjoy this.

Ryan Keene wrote...

"Worms on hooks, bobbers carefully watched under hot skies.  Bologna sandwich laying in the grass and a metal cantina filled with spring water collected on the way to the pond.  We would spend a few minutes collecting the discarded Styrofoam containers from around the ground left behind by the previous fisherman.  I inspected each one to make sure they were empty.  We had spent the early evening last night after the rain, collecting night crawlers into a metal can, but you could never have enough. 

I was at the level now where I was prepping the hook and setting the bobber at the proper height and even snapping my own hook and line onto the swivel by myself.  I was kind of a pro at this by now and my stride over to my favorite little fishing spot telegraphed my skills.  I spent the first few hours setting hooks in small perch and sunfish of varying size when my dad approached me with his hands behind his back.  He sat down next to me, the bobber still in my periphery.  He showed me a lure still in the cardboard packaging, a Mepps Aglia.  It consisted of an angular brass body with a treble hook and a buck hair tail.  He went through the basics of fishing these and that I should try on the other side of the little inlet to get out of the weeds a little to make it easier on me.  He spoke about the importance of how fast to reel in the lure that it would change how the spinner would act under the water and how deep it would sink.  

I hung that thing up so many times on the bottom of the pond, the frustration was getting to be so much for me to contain.  I tried to keep my professional appearance to all the other “kids” who were still staring at their bobbers, but I wasn’t a lure pro.  I was still a worm pro fishing out of my lane.  I hung up on the bottom one last time and I sat down waiting for my dad to try and dislodge the spinner from whatever I had it snagged.  He couldn’t and when he brought out his buck knife I almost burst into tears as he slid the blade under the fishing line.  I sat there stunned knowing I had failed my first day as a real fisherman. 

My dad could feel how much weight I had on my shoulders, he was used to this as I never could take failure well.  I wasn’t in the mood to tie on another bobber so we packed up and instead of the normal Fleetwood Mac 8 track that we played all the time in the old Chevy, he turned the radio off and we talked.  We talked about how learning always included times of what I thought were failures.  He reminded me about learning to ride a bike, the road rashes, bruises, and damaged ego would lead to a skill I used every single day.  Fishing was just like that. 

I thought we were heading home but instead we stopped at the local bait shop and he had me pick out three new spinners and that we would go back to the pond and try again.  I picked another Mepps Aglia, and a Panther, and some other one that had an insect painted on the wooden body.  When we got back to the pond he stood with me and guided me through the techniques of casting something so light, and how to vary the speed of reeling it in and moving the rod up and down to imitate a darting bait fish.

For the next hour of tough training, I only hung up twice.  He sat back down, leaning on a tree, pipe in mouth, smoke swirling above his felt hat.  I started fishing on my own using all the skills he had taught me.  In about a half an hour something took my spinner and it was a lot different than the perch from earlier on in the day.  This was a lure fish, one of those big ones I saw on pictures hanging in the bait shop register wall.  My first was a Pumpkinseed, with its orange belly and almost neon like blue green rays flowing from the eyes down the body.  It was the size of my dads palm and I marveled at its beauty. 

That day would be the first of many teachings on the river, not just technique.  It went beyond what color fly to fish on a cloudy spring morning or what color Rapala to float across the mouths of a largemouth.  I have learned about my resilience, my eagerness to learn everything I could, patience, and to love the now no matter how frustrating or rewarding it can be."

Visit the RAK Art website and following along with the latest artwork on Facebook and Instagram.

Prints of both of these pieces are available (in two sizes) and can be found on the RAK Art website.

Monday, June 10, 2024

TROUT SMITHS - New Ownership, New Website & New Offerings

When the news started to get out that Struble was in the process of taking ownership of Trout Smiths from Graywolf Rods, I was at first surprised but then excited that this fast growing component company would now have a fly rod blank company within its fold. 

Over the weekend the Trout Smiths website went live and Steve Van Winkle sent along a series of responses to questions that I had sent him awhile back.  With the announcement of new ownership and the website relaunch, this short Q&A with Steve is timed right to give some background on what they have been up to over the past several months and some hints on what's coming in their future, too.

Trout Smiths can now be found on the T.F.M. Fly Rod Builders page.  This is a great resource for those who are looking for more information on fiberglass fly rods and blanks.  As always, I'm happy to field emails with questions if you need another opinion.

Steve, you've had Trout Smiths for several months now and what drew you to these rods?  What are your future plans?

Chiefly, knowing Shane’s creativity and expertise, I was confident these would be finely tuned, fun-to-fish rods. The glass line we directly received from Shane is E-Glass and I also figured they’d not only be fun for all sizes of fish but also forgiving for even the newest of fishers.  Once I cast them, I was enthusiastic. These aren’t technical rods and they’re not all-round rods, but for what they're designed to do, they do it with ease.  Classic E-Glass feel with medium-fast tapers and good recovery can pitch small, weighted nymphs without “knocking” and drop dries gently on top of trout with barely a ripple while protecting the tiniest of tippets sold me instantly.

Because of Shane’s persistence and reputation, Trout Smiths is also a recognized name with a foothold in the cottage rod community.  When my partners and I were considering plans to expand on the advantages Struble can leverage as a component company, we had discussed offering rods and blanks so when Shane told us he was considering selling Trout Smiths, we felt building on an established brand made good sense.

Over the years we've seen the Trout Smith offerings range from "trout weight" fly rods, heavier line weight fly rods, and spinning rods.  Do you see that changing in time?

Right now, we’re focusing on the trout fly rods, both on the blanks established by Shane and adding a few new offerings of our own.  The Brute Series will likely be archived for a little while, but the blanks will make a reappearance fairly soon; we won’t be pursuing the spinning rods.  All of us involved with Trout Smiths and Struble have other occupations that keep us busy so we need to focus on a few, manageable key things, especially at the outset.

We have augmented the Trout Smiths roster, however, beginning with a new 7’6 4-weight three-piece S-Glass blank which we partnered with Dusty Smith of Livingston Rod Company to design.  We’ve dubbed it “Rocky Creek” after one of my favorite haunts back in Montana that I’ve fished for nearly forty years. It’s a crisp little wand especially suited for the situations and fish of smaller creeks.  Additionally, our new five-piece “Beehive” S-2 Glass travel blank is something we’re excited to offer.  Its configuration breaks down to perfect backpack size and is a delight to fish; so much so, people might reach for it who have no plans to pack anywhere.  We really wanted to offer a glass pack option to builders and fishers alike and couldn’t be happier with this blank.  If things go well, we’ll be looking to expand the S-2 Glass lineup with four-piece blanks.

One other project we’re hopeful about is resurrecting some of Shane’s original series of Trout Smiths classic yellow glass blanks.  These tapers were a collaboration between Mike McFarland of McFarland Rod Company and Shane with Mike rolling the spigot-ferruled blanks.  After talking with both of them, we should be getting samples from Mike soon.  Once we do, we’ll probably have to limit our selection to one or two at first but plan on reintroducing these in the near future.

Dusty is also helping us with a couple more four-piece IM Carbon blanks.  We call these our “Broadwater Series” and includes a 9’ 5-weight and 8’6" 4-weight blank.  People can read more about these on our website

Where are the Trout Smith rods built and on what blanks?

For now, rods will be made by me in Colorado; the other partners in Trout Smiths and Struble live in Montana (as I did for 30 years).  At some point, we plan to all be in at least the same state, but for now, I’ll be the builder and offer a standard build on an as-ordered basis from Canon City.  Hopefully we'll be able to stock a few rods eventually.  We also talked Shane into continuing to build rods for us from time to time, so we’ll also offer a “Graywolf-Built” series.  These will be rods Shane builds according to his own dictates and be available on the Trout Smiths website.

The Trout Smiths lineup of fly rods and blanks includes the following series in glass and carbon:

8’ 2/3 Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Olive Bark & Lemonade
8’ 3/4 Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Olive Bark & Verdant

7’ 3-Weight - 5-Piece - Available in Olive Bark & Big Sky Blue

7’6" 4-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in White & Black (soon)

8’ 1-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural
8' 2-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural
8' 3-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural

8'6" 4-Weight - 4-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural
9' 5-Weight - 4-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural

One of the advantages of a component company with Struble while also owning a fly rod/blank company with Trout Smiths is we’re able to offer great savings on components to everyone who buys one of our blanks or rods.  So, while each blank and rod comes with a locally-sewn flannel bag, we’re also offering a Struble Component Kit with any blanks purchased.  Essentially choose your reel seat, insert and agate guide from the Struble site and we’re throwing in an appropriate set of unground, hard chrome snake guides, choice of grip, appropriately sized nickel silver winding check, tip-top, and hook-keeper for no extra charge.  This is a savings of over $35 if someone purchased the items separately.  If people don’t need an entire kit, Struble is also taking 10% off any components purchased the day anyone buys a blank from our website.

What it means for the rods is we’re able to offer as standard components that for which many builders would charge extra.  Trout Smiths rods come standard with either bright or dark nickel plated aluminum or titanium Struble seats with laser-etched end caps, premium, stabilized Struble Select wood inserts from the Pacific Northwest, Struble agate stripping guides, and our new Struble “Turtle Check” (integrated winding check and hook-keeper).  Trout Smith rods offer an incredible value we’re anxious for people to experience.

What excites you about Trout Smiths going forward?

We’ve made a lot of great friends through Struble and we’re anxious to meet even more as we go forward with Trout Smiths.

Visit the Trout Smiths website and follow along with the latest shop news on Instagram.