Saturday, May 31, 2014

Trouser Worms For Sale at CarpPro

CarpPro now has the Trouser Worm (Along with McTage's McLuvins, Montana Hybrids, Hopes Damsel and many more) for sale HERE.  It is already the best carp fly line-up on the Internet bar none, and it is still just getting rolling - All courtesy of Catch Fly Fishing.

So many people have asked me over the last couple of years if I sell my flies. It hurt me to turn people away because I know how it is to be starting out fly fishing for carp.  It is HARD.  The learning curve is brutal, but I have known for quite some time that if there was a supply of honest to goodness GREAT carp flies on the market then it would make things easier.  If there were more proven patterns on the market, then new carpers could leave the flies to the experts and focus on the real stuff. Sneaking into position. Presenting the fly. Detecting the take.

Well, CATCH Fly Fishing has been working hard over the last year and a half to bring us all the best damn carp fly line-up any carper can possibly imagine.  I am not exaggerating.  It is awesome.  This last week marked a critical milestone (at least in my book) in that mission when Catch delivered the first batch of Trouser Worms to CarpPro.

The Trouser Worm is my most productive pattern and I have caught hundreds of carp on the Trouser Worm.  It helped win at least two Carp Slam Championships.  It has caught many many carp in many parts of the country.  Mostly though, it has the coolest damn name of any fly ever.  I love it.  I hope you will too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stupid Fly Tricks #4: Fixing Fly Line Wrapped Around Rod

How to quickly and easily fix it when you fly line is wrapped around your fly rod between guides.  Without cutting off your fly or bringing it back though the guides.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Standamaran: Laminate Coat

The laminate coat of the Standamaran SUP (click here for the full history) is pretty much done.  Laminate coat is surfboard jargon for the layer of figerglass and epoxy that is laid down over the shaped foam. Traditionally, there are two more coats in surfboard building called a fill coat and gloss coat.  The fill coat is at least partially structural but the gloss coat is mainly aesthetic and appearances don't really matter all that much for a fishing vessel, so I am going to skip it to save weight and time.

The laminate coat went something like this:

First I glassed the bottom of the platform with 38" wide 6 oz E glass.  There is also a strip of 3" wide 8 oz fiberglass tape hidden in the radius between the platform and pontoons for re-inforcement.  This was the first time I ever laid down any glass and it was a learning experience.  It turned out that I shouldn't have tried to laminate up the sides of the pontoons at the same time as the platform.  The section where the platform curves into the pontoons is really really hard to get the glass to lay down tight, particularly if you are pulling on it from two directions.   A better option would have been to trim the glass to stop partway up the radius between the platform and pontoons and then overlap that with the laminate on the pontoons.  Nevertheless it came out OK.  Just OK, but I am cool with just OK if it doesn't fall apart the first time it gets within 10 feet of water.

I am adding white pigment to the epoxy so that the final board doesn't heat up and de-laminate in the sun. OK, maybe appearances does count a little, because it is also so that I am not floating around my local carp lake on a pink boat.  I got street cred to maintain after all.

The next step was to laminate the bottom of the pontoons with a layer of 4oz under a layer of 6oz.  The learning continued.  The middle of the pontoons was hard enough since I was not glassing a flat horizontal surface.  Trying to glass the middle of the pontoons at the same time as the complex curves at either end was just silly.  I ended up using at least twice as much epoxy as I should have needed and also had to cut out quite a bit of jacked up glass out of both tips.  

After I cut out the bad glass I had to find some way to smooth things out if I was going to be able to cover the mistake with another layer of glass.  After some research I used some DAP spackling to fill.  I had some laying around that is pink until it dries, then it turns white.  It is easy to shape and sand, but unfortunately it is not water-proof like the rest of the extruded polystyrene foam I am using so I am going to have to make extre sure that these sections are fully sealed.  

After filling and re-shaping I added a new layer of glass over the aft tips in two overlapping halves.  That made it ALLOT easier to get the glass to flex to fit the rounded shape and it came out awesome.  I wish I would have known what I know now the first time - it would have saved allot of work!

The repairs on the forward tip were similar in nature in that it involved several smaller overlapping pieces of fiberglass. 

After that it was time to glass the top.  I started by sanding down all the "laps" (short for overlap I suspect) which is the edges of the existing layers of fiberglass.  The fiberglass on the top section is going to overlap these edges and you have to feather them out so that the new glass lays down smoothly over them.

While sanding I decided that I needed to clean up the front and back of the platform.  When I glassed the bottom I did a pretty crummy job dealing with the curved nature of these "rails" and I wasn't going to be able to get the glass on the top to over-wrap it cleanly without some filler.  A little more DAP spackling and it was good to go.

For the top laminate coat I started with one layer of 6oz on the front and back of the pontoons.

By this time I was getting much much much better at this.  The top of the pontoons came out pretty good. Which is too say I didn't botch anything, didn't use twice as much epoxy as I needed and managed to lay down glass on the more complex curves at the tips without any major catastrophes.

Next I laminated the top of the platform with a layer of 6oz glass over a layer of 4oz.  This was my best showing of the whole laminate coat.  It came out as close to perfect as a first time glasser can expect.  At least I hope it did.  For all I know the whole damn thing is going to blow up the first time I stand on it.  Nah - just kidding.  I am pretty damn sure it is going to work and work well.

Next I will:

  1. Add a couple of 3" fiberglass tape re-inforcements.  
  2. Sand all the laps flat and sand out a couple of the more blatant blemishes.
  3. Clean up some small bubbles in the laminate I missed the first time.
  4. Add a thin fill coat of epoxy.
  5. Figure out what the heck I am going to do about a deck traction pad.
  6. Figure out what the heck I am going to do about a paddle, push pole, car rack etc. etc. etc.
  7. Figure out what (if anything) I am going to do to add a logo.
  8. Hit the water.
At this point it weighs 23.5lb.  I was hoping to keep it under 26lb - I think I am going to pull it off!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mixed Bag Spawn and Post Spawn

Many of our waters across the country are going to be moving into post-spawn.  This is my absolute favorite time of the year but if you are trying to time post spawn on your waters there are a couple of things to be aware of.

First of all, on many larger bodies of water it can be hard to really nail down post-spawn because everything is all mixed up.  At any given point in time there is a mixed bag of fish in every possible phase of spawn. This was the case when I was on the Columbia River a couple of years ago, it was that way when I was on Lake MI last summer and there are a couple of reservoirs here in town that have a mixed bag spawn.  It also used to happen on Lake St. Claire in MI when I live there - but not the Detroit river for some bizarre reason.

A mixed bag spawn like that is the absolute bomb diggity.  It brings every fish in the system shallow for different reasons and you can really catch the heck out of fish as soon as you learn how to ID and ignore the hard core spawners in the mix.  For the most part you are looking for what I call the wall-flowers.  They are almost always off to the side just a little bit with the possible exception of single cruisers.
  • Single fish tailing off to the side (pre and post spawners).  
  • Single fish off to the side laid up in shallow water.  This time of year these are almost always spawned out.  Do NOT confuse these fish with sunners.  These fish are resting and very very very very very hungry.  They can be almost ridiculously aggressive at times but will almost certainly eat a well presented soft-hackle.  
  • Single slow cruisers - some of which are pre spawn and will eat, but some of which are post-spawn who are tired of resting, are still very very very hungry and have slipped into full on seek and destroy mode.  Oh my god, I love seek and destroy.  I live for seek and destroy.  
Spawned out Resting Female
Ignore the fast cruisers, they are just spawners looking for a lady.  Kinda the Tony IROCazini of the carp world.  Cruising for chicks with a silly car, gold chains, greased back hair and a little too much cologne. Also ignore any carp in a group, they are almost certainly in full spawn.  Just pretend they don't exist.  If you waste your time with these fish you will never find the wall-flowers.  

Now lets get back to the post-spawn, because that is what I really meant to write about but got side-tracked.  Post-spawn is really awesome.  It is my favorite time of year because it is almost always the most aggressive phase of carp behavior of the whole year.  

When trying to time post-spawn the first thing to be aware of is that there is a short lull after the full-on spawn.  On bodies of water with a mixed bag spawn the lull tends to be shorter (or even not exist) because some of the carp finished spawning early and they get out of the lull quicker then the rest so everything kind of blurrs together.  On bodies of water where every carp spawns at once it tends to last about a week and is shocking.  Suddenly the spawn is over and the shallows go from explosions of life to deserts almost overnight.  I am not sure if the carp stop eating all together or just move deep and out of fly-fishing access but for all intensive purposes they don't exist for fly fishermen.  It is infuriating because you never know when it will end and you really really want to know when it ends because when it does things get awesome.  It comes to mind because the reservoir I am focused on right now just went into lull.  The day before yesterday I had 6 shots at various forms of viable wall-flowers and hooked 4 fish in under an hour.  Yesterday I had zero shots at any carp in two hours.  

When the lull is over you enter post-spawn.  Not all waters have a clear post-spawn, and how long post-spawn last varies dramatically from year to year from body of water to body of water.  The longest I have seen was three weeks and on that body of water in that year everybody who knew about it crushed any and all records for how many carp they had caught in a day.  I call it the great carp bubble.  Otherwise it seems to last between three days and a couple of weeks and is by far and away the best time of the year to put up numbers.  The carp are shallow, the carp are hungry and the carp are aggresive.  Don't miss it.

Spawn Wall-Flower Tailing Mirror

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Long time readers of the blog may know that I catch allot of my carp on 3X tippet. That is just what I like and that is just what I use about 90% of the time. Well, not today. Not today.  Today I was in IT and 3x was not an option.  Heck, 0X was not an option.

Today I decided to fish the flood plains of one of our local reservoirs.  The first issue was that spawn was in full force.  That doesn't help but I can work with it - and I actually managed to hook (not catch!!) 9 carp. Quite respectable.  

The bigger issue was that I was fishing in a beaver infested flooded forest. LOTS of lumber.  My shins are bruised and bloody just  from wading through it.

You hook a carp in that and you are pretty much out of luck.  Immediately.  One carp wrapped me around the tree in the middle of the picture above three times.  In about 1 second!

After the first carp destroyed me I knew had to resort to desperate measures.  I cut my leader back to 3' (Guessing 35lb test?), torqued down my reel, pinched the line to my grip and resolved that from there on out I was either winning or losing - immediately.  Every time I hooked a carp I put on the maximum pressure as fast and as hard I could.  To hell with my rod, it was me versus the forest versus the carp.  Mono E Pesco.   

It didn't always work.  Actually it wasn't working out that well at all and by the time I was 0 for 4 I almost gave up.  I am glad I didn't because the one I finally landed will go down as one of my most memorable carp ever.  The take was awesome, the fish was big, the fish was hot and I gave it 0.0" of line. Zero. Nada. Nilch. I can't believe my fly-rod survived to tell the tale. Going lock-down toe-to-toe on a hot 15lb carp is a shockingly violent experience.  

I have caught allot of carp on the fly in my time.  Many hundreds.  After you have caught enough carp you don't scream and shout and make an ass out of yourself every-time you catch one.  Most of the time you move on to the next one with a pleasant feeling and that is about it.  On this carp I bent my head back and howled to the carp spirits.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Standamaran: Final Shaping

A quick review:  The Standamaran is a catamaran style stand up paddleboard that I am building for fly fishing for carp on big flats.  Click here for the full history.

The last time there was any movement on Project Standamaran it was 5 months ago!!!  A fly swap, Zack's final push towards getting his Blackbelt and a totally awesome pool league (all on top of fishing and normal life of course) all conspired to leave me with little or no energy for such a big project.  No big deal, you can't really laminate fiberglass in the Winter without a heated garage around here anyways.

I am going to need to finish this thing soon if it is going to be ready for prime time on some of my bigger flats though - so in the last couple of weeks I got off my butt and made some serious progress.

The first next step was to round the edges on the pontoons and glue them to the platform with Gorilla Glue.

Then I added some foam in order to smoothly transition between the platform and the pontoons:

Then I did the final shaping of all the edges and transitions and sanded everything with 40 or 60 grit.  All I have left to do is finish filling and smoothing the most egregious dings and dents and then I am ready for fiberglass!!!  It weighs 13lb without the fiberglass, I am expecting it to come out around 26lb final weight.