Sunday, June 8, 2014

Standamaran: Maiden Voyage

In my last post about the Standamaran DIY SUP project (Click here for the full history) I had declared it "good enough". After a good forty plus hours of work spread over 5 calendar months I was really anxious to try it out.  Unfortunately, I awoke on my day off to the sound of 15 MPH winds caressing the trees in my back yard.   

I have never been on a surf-board.  I have never been on a stand-up paddleboard.  I have barely been on a kayak, and I tried standing up in that for about 3 seconds before heading to shore to change my underwear.  There was no way in hell I was going to try standing up on this thing the first time in 15mph winds.  Dammit.  I was just going to have to go carpin until the winds died down.  Dammit.  I hate carpin.  Dammit.  Sarcasm is sooooooo lost on the Internet. Dammit, I just recently watched the newest Star Trek Movie and it seems to have affected my vocabulary. Dammit Jim I'm a carper not a writer.

It was a heck of a good day to be hitting the water though.  Better for carpin than standamaran-ing, that is for sure.  In just a few short hours I was well on my way to a double digit day of catching carp on flies.  

That put me in a bit of a pickle. Double digit days are HARD to come by in Colorado.  Should I continue fishing or break out the SUP?   Fortunately the clouds rolled in and saved me the impossible decision.  Dark impenetrable thunder clouds.  The kind that turn the water into an impenetrable mirror and render fly fishing for carp virtually impossible.

I had to dodge or sit out the occasional thunder-storm but over the next couple of hours I put the standamaran through it's paces on increasingly bigger bodies of water.  

The first time I stood up on it I was a bit shaky.  The first though that came to mind was: "Am I really going to be able to fly fish standing up on this thing, or did I just waste a whole lot of time and money?"  It didn't take long though, and within the first 20 minutes I was worrying more about scanning the shallows for carp while paddling in the standing position than maintaining balance.  Within another half hour I was practicing my cast and was easily as accurate as normal.

I can only handle "practicing" for so long though.  Eventually I need real, so after a while I moved on to a small bay where I knew I had a decent chance of finding a few carp on the kind of medium depth flats I had in mind when I started this project.

As I entered the bay I switched to my push-pole.  So much to learn!!!  It turns out that rotating my little boat with a push pole is HARD.  Ridiculously hard.  It is really easy to go straight slower.  It is really really easy to go straight faster.  You want to change course? Hah!!!  Good luck.  So this was the first lesson of the day.  I am either going to need some new skills or add a skeg or rudder to use to pin the back end so that I can rotate around that while poling.

It took a while, but eventually I did manage to get myself lined up and slowly drifting into the bay at the desired depth (about waste deep) and orientation (looking shallow).  Shortly there-after I learned my second critical lesson - speed!  It felt like I was creeping into the bay but I was actually cruising along at a pretty good clip.  Much much faster than if I were wading.  

When a tailing carp suddenly appeared nearly directly in my path it was shocking how fast I was moving and as a result I blew the first presentation.  I blew it BAD.  I can't complain about the second and third presentation though, sometimes you do everything right and you just don't get the eat.   Which brings us to the third lesson - which is that  I am going to be able to get much much closer to tailing carp than I was expecting.  I made the third presentation at 12 feet and was within 8 feet before the carp finally noticed me and bolted for the depths.

Which brings us to the next lesson, and that is that this thing is going to work and it is going to work well.  The very next carp I saw was one I would have never seen on foot in the poor lighting.  It was in about 8" of water over a light sand flat at about 35 to 40 feet.  This fish was cruising slowly and erratically like a shark over a reef and was in total seek and destroy mode.  If I made the presentation I WAS going to get an eat.  Period.  Well, I nailed it.  Put push-pole in armpit.  Strip out 40 feet of line.  Cast to 37 feet, drag to 35 feet and drop it in front of the carp's trajectory.  One tiny twitch for good measure and then kill the fly completely dead.  Easy money,  and because of my elevated station I got to see the carp surge forward and eat the fly in such excruciatingly fine detail that I have barely slept since.  The sequence is burned into my soul.  

I think I learned allot about my new toy in the next couple of minutes.  I am sure I did, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what because everything turned to chaos at that point.  Between getting dragged 50 feet, stowing the push-pole, getting out the net, fighting and landing the fish all while not falling in i don't remember much.  What a GAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Nice man! Good to see your project worked out!

    1. Well, that may be stretching it a little - but is shows promise.

  2. Replies
    1. Probably. I have a nasty habit of giving stuff away for free though - I am always nervous about the idea of turning hobies into a job. I wouldn't dream about it until I have allot more time on the water with it though, and probably only after making version 2.0

  3. Way Cool! Lots of carp and your project worked, how satisfying that must have been!


    1. Not sure I can remember being that satisfied about a single fish under 20lb

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  5. Very cool. If I could be so bold to suggest a couple things that may make it better.

    First additions I think it needs is:
    1) 5 Gallon bucket to hold your stripped out fly line, with 2 notches cut in to each side of the rim to hold your fly rod while poling/paddling (ex:
    2) Push pole/paddle holder (see above picture for one simple option of how he has his pole holder setup)
    3) Shallow water anchor pin. Basically just a heavy duty fiberglass pole you push into the bottom to hold you in place (you could easily make one since it wouldn't need to be heavy duty)

  6. Awesome advice man!!! I like that bucket thing a whole lot. Very clean, very easy. I think I am going to try my stripping basket first though. One of those Orvis ones with the rod holder integrated into it but I suspect I will end up with a bucket. I have already added holders for the push/pole, paddle and my rod when I am not using it. I went with a vertical system instead of horizontal so that I do not have to bend down. You will see pics eventually. The anchor pin is an absolute necessity. I have some ideas on that and rudder / skeg system when I have time.

  7. Nothing compares to the carp sleigh ride! I rarely get taken into the backing from my kayak, but will get towed around for a while. It can be handy to have some sort of anchor system or pole-type system (as mentioned above) to give you some leverage on fish in places where fish can go places you don't want them to go. Typically on mud flats there's no danger of fish making cover, but to put leverage on the fish you do need for the watercraft to not move, obviously.

  8. DIY brilliance. She should be christened "The Dammit".

  9. I like your SUP a lot. I made a catamaran sit on top, and 16 foot cat bass boat. I'm thinking of an SUP, but I was thinking of a catamaran style more like a conventional SUP with a tunnel hull. It might not get made because I am working on some poling skiffs like the solo skiff and maybe a proper flats boat.

    At first I thought your boat wasn't big enough. My displacement numbers come out at 275 if you had a correct 4 inch waterline, and the sections were all square. With proper boat shaping and a prismatic coefficient of .6, I think you are nearer 164. That would explain the freeboard aft. Assuming you weigh 150, your boat needs more displacement. Theoretically.

    Insufficient displacement means the boat isn't hydro efficient, won't handle properly, and will be tippy. Not to say those are problems you are having, but a 300 pounder needs to make his own plan.

    I'm more 225 or more, so I would need a much larger pair of toons.



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