Tuesday, September 26, 2023

RODMAKER 24/7 - Now Open for Business

Sometimes I wonder if Shane Gray of Graywolf Rods sleeps at night or if he just masterminds his next move in the "GLASS GEEK" world.  Shane recently launched Rodmaker 24/7 and in this post he shares where is came from and hints at what's next.  The few things I've been made privy to will fill some voids in what folks are looking for in fiberglass blanks. 

I'm already seeing quite a few Rodmaker 24/7 blank builds on the internet and the reviews so far have been very positive. 

Shane wrote...  "First, long story short. one of the folks I do business with in Korea sent me a message six or eight months ago saying, " I have a couple of your Graywolf Rods here that someone sent to have them duplicated and because we've been doing business for sometime (supplier of pre-preg, mandrels, etc), what would you like me to do?"  I said, "Copy those babies and send me the price and minimum order quantity."

The blanks came a couple months later and I was knocked out by the premium quality.  So, I started bringing in blanks they already produce, and I added the ones I really like to my inventory for a new business that will fall under Graywolf Rods that I've called Rodmaker 24/7.

The blanks I currently offer are not original designs, just the current line up they have made for several years with a few small tweaks from me.  The focus of Rodmaker 24/7 will be to offer great blanks at a very reasonable price.  Currently everything on the website retails for $69 to $89.

All blanks come with a rod bag and a rod label that you can place anywhere on the blank.  The Rodmaker 24/7 website also has reel seats, grips, rod tubes, guides, and more in both shop grade and premium.   

The website says it a little better with the help of AndyWords from the website ( Andy wrote this... ha) "Connecting pro rod builders and hobbyists alike to great rod making parts at an affordable price.  It is our mission to supply professional and hobbyist rod makers with the best components possible, at an affordable price.  We believe that this enables builders to have more creativity, and push the boundaries of their builds.  We invite you to try out our products, and get started making your next rod today!"

As for the reel seats...  2020 was a bitch for most.  I seemed to make it through pretty good but the supply chain in the U.S.A. was hit pretty hard.  After about the fifteenth call from fellow rod builders looking for reel seats, I figured I had better look into a few new sources for stock.  Minimum orders are high, and even higher when you want anodized or plated hardware, so I bought for myself and have a ton left to sell to everyone else at a damn good price.

What's to come?  Original tapers.  Original models.  Designed and prototyped in Michigan and then made better at a real shop which allows me to offer for sale at a fair price.  You'll start seeing these blanks soon!

Thank you for the years of support and tell everyone to enter code "TFM15" for an additional 15% off any size order at Rodmaker 24/7 through October 15, 2023."

Check out Rodmaker 24/7 to see all the current offerings and look for some additional blanks to be offered soon which should get some serious attention. 

ECHO FLY FISHING - Tim Rajeff on Casting Glass Fly Rods

A couple of years ago, Tim Rajeff of ECHO Fly Fishing created a series of casting videos that were shared in individual posts here.  I thought it would be a good idea to bring them back and for quick reference by putting all four videos in a post as a proper tutorial.

It's not a bad idea to practice what Tim is teaching with a MPR...

Check out the ECHO Fly Fishing website for their River Glass and B.A.G. Quickshot fly rod series.

ORVIS - How to Repair Your Fishing Waders

Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis takes a few minutes to explain how to fix your waders leaks with both DIY or send them back for a pro fix options.

Visit the Orvis website to see their array of waders.  I'm a huge fan of the PRO Series Waders.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Always in the Dark

"Are you guys camping here tonight?" The man asked Phil through the open window of his battle worn 4Runner as he backed the boat through a campsite to a somewhat makeshift river access.  The man and his teenage son were putting up a tent by the headlights of a pickup truck.
"No.  We're going fishing." Phil said as he checked his mirrors dodging the birch trees.
"Really? It's dark already."
"That's when we go..."

I chuckled at this exchange as Phil Croff of Croff Craft can come across a some sort of mad man, especially when we're dropping a boat into a tiny northern Michigan river after dark.  I fumbled with putting a fly rod and reel together under the light of my iPhone, cracked open a beer, and sat down on the riverbank.  The woods were quiet and I could hear Phil driving away to park his rig downstream at the takeout.  He caught a ride back with his wife and we pushed off into the dark like he's done hundreds of times before.

Rewinding several hours back on this Friday in late June, I had traveled from my parent's house, stopped in to see the folks at Scientific Anglers, and then headed north to Traverse City to hit the tail end of an early evening shindig at The Northern Angler with Skwala.  Everyone there was planning a night out to look for the "Hex" but I had other plans.  I gave Phil a call and he said that he was putting some burgers on the grill and to come out to the house.  Amy was there and, of course, the pups.  It takes forever for it to get dark that time of year in northern Michigan and I figured that we still had a couple of hours to kill before we'd start our mouse float.   

We had dinner in the backyard, walked through the house that was in various stages of completion as he's been juggling several cedar boat builds with all night guiding sessions through the summer.  We spent some time in the shop seeing his latest innovations in cedar strip boat building.  It was just starting to get dark so we jumped in the 4Runner, stopped at the nearby party shop for snacks, a sixer, and ice for the cooler.  Windows down, we headed down dirt roads to the river with the boat in tow. 

There is just something about a night float with Phil.  He has every turn, downed tree, and sweeper memorized of a handful of northern Michigan rivers and the red lights in these photographs are about the only time any lights go on at all.  He methodically picks his way downstream in the dark, which years ago when I started fishing with him would weird me out, but not anymore.   

As soon as we slid down from the camp, lightning bugs appeared all around us blinking quick cool white lights in a very fast short sequence without any rhythm.  The moon was up and the forest was quiet beyond the sound of the river.  Phil tied a foam mouse pattern on my leader and charged the glow fly line with a headlamp.  I began careful and deliberate roll casts as we slowly crept down the river.  The mouse swinging across the current was met with interest as we quickly caught and released several small to medium sized brown trout.  It was quite a way to start the float but we were hoping for a larger trout before the night was over.

Fly fishing in the dark causes rods to take over for cones in the eyes to create a picture in your brain of what you are constantly trying to see.  On this night, the waves of flashing lights from the lightening bugs created a sort of weird psychedelic experience without the drugs.  My depth perception was affected the most and distances are wildly deceiving.  Typically things are much closer than I first thought and it's interesting how the brain pieces together what it's trying to help you see.

Around midnight, we lost the moon and the lightning bugs were went to sleep.  The woods did too.  Not a flash or sound could be heard aside from Phil and I bantering.  The trout had stopped rising as well aside from the unexpected rise to the mouse fly every now and then.  We wrote those off as small fish that couldn't fit the mouse in their mouth.  Everything had gone more or less dead.

Fly fishing in the dark is unpredictable.  There are moon phases and pressure changes which are thought to have something to do with how active the fish may be but really no two nights are the same.  For several hours not much happened and we continued floating downstream.  We still had several hours to go and Phil figured that we might prick a trout or two before we ended the float. 

Around 3:00 a.m. there was some sort of unexpected shift that happened and the lightning bugs started flashing in the woods around us again but not to the same accelerated speed in their light cadence like before.  It was something though and soon after we had a rise to the mouse, and then another.  Weird.  Things are turning back on.  Some cycle had shifted.  Then, as it neared 4:00 a.m., there was a loud splashy rise and my 6-weight doubled under the weight of a larger trout.  This was the one we had been looking for all night and a few minutes later, Phil slid the net under a 22-inch brown trout.  There were whoops and high fives as we got out of the boat knelling on the shallow sandbar, took a few photographs, and then watched as this mouse eater slowly swam away into the dark.  What a way to end the night.

Visit the Croff Craft website and be sure to follow along on Instagram which is a mix of nighttime brown trout, cedar strip boats, and running bird dogs.  If you think you'll be in northern Michigan anytime soon, book a night with Phil.  You won't regret it and just might catch the largest brown trout of your life on a stream so small that you wouldn't think it could live in there.

You can find a treasure trove of past T.F.M. posts of boat builds and fly fishing by searching "Croff" in the search bar in the lower right side of the page.  There are some good stories there.

SCIENTIFIC ANGLERS - Fly Fishing for Trout with Gary Borger

It's time for an old school fly fishing for trout lesson with Gary Borger from the Scientific Anglers film archive.  Press PLAY...

Visit the Scientific Anglers YouTube channel for more films like this and click "Subscribe".

TURTLEBOX - Unboxing and Features of the Gen 2 Speaker

We are huge fans of Turtlebox Audio and our Gen 2 Speakers are constantly jamming tunes at the house, camp, tailgating, parties, and on the water.  This is certainly a "Buy Once, Cry Once" type of purchase but you'll be glad you have it in your gear stash.  In short, the sound is amazing out of these speakers.

The folks at Turtlebox created an unboxing video which outlines the various features of the Gen 2 Speaker.  Check it out...


Visit the Turtlebox website and sign up for their newsletter for product drops, promotions, and giveaways.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

LEIDERMAN RODS - A Sakura, Watches and the Fall Build List

For better or worse, there isn't a same way that all the small shop fly rod builders "talk" to their customers.  Some upkeep their websites, others email newsletters, and some use social media as the main driver.  Some use it all.  And others are more or less underground with maybe an email address or phone number that you'll need to leave a message on.  Rod builders are sometimes a weird lot...

For rod builder (and watch tinkerer) Matt Leiderman, he has a website but most of his communication is through Instagram.  He lost access to his Facebook page but things still pop up there sometimes.

Overnight, he posted a stunning image of a recent Ijuin Rods Sakura build with a short update and an invitation to get on his fall build list.  If you have a high end build in mind, few do it as noteworthy as Leiderman.

Matt wrote...

"I’ve been MIA from this account lately but still have managed to get some rods out the door over the last few months… I’ve been doing lots of watch work but starting to get some blanks lined up for fall builds. If you reached out and are still interested in talking about a build please send me a note.

In the meantime here’s a Sakura that was requested to be a “springtime in Japan” theme… love the colors."

Visit the Leiderman Rods website and reach out to get on his build list.  Follow along with the latest shop news or watch projects on Instagram on the Leiderman Rods and Mecha Horology pages.

P.S.  If you'd like to see more of Matt's watch work, he chronicled a refresh of an Orvis badged Hamilton Field Watch in this T.F.M. post earlier this year.