Trout season 2016, for me, is off to a real slow start. Firstly, the biblical winter and spring rains that have everyone except ducks and ark-building crackpots in Northeast Victoria thinking of relocating to dryer parts of Australia have made all my favourite small streams raging bloody rivers that look more like psycho-whipped chocolate milk than trout water. Next, my day job, as a specialist limo driver and chef for all my wife’s children has limited my free time to the point that I feel like committing a medium-level crime with a view towards earning some quiet time in jail where they can’t get at me for food or a lift.
No more excuses, though: the water is finally receding and it’s time to go for a fish! The first order of business, of course, is tackle tinkering and catching up on product reviews from late late season. There’s also a growing pile of parcels on my desk demanding attention
I’ll start with a smattering of some of the basics, new and old, that make life easier.
Manic tungsten bead nymphs
Next up is flies, and I can see that the one big change this season, particularly on the medium and larger rivers I occasionally fish, will be the need for heavier nymphs because of the higher flows. With this in mind, I’ve added a much broader range of size twelve Tungsten bead-head nymphs to my normal off-season nymph order of size fourteens and even thrown in a few tens and some bright coloured beads as well.
One of my new favourite nymphs at the moment, for any water, is the Death Metal hare’s-ear from Manic Tackle and this is normally the first nymph I tie on in size fourteen or sixteen when fishing subsurface on smaller water. On deeper water, in size twelve this thing fair boogies to the bottom and its dull, black tungsten bead is good over brown trout. In my very limited time on the water so far this season, on some slightly coloured water, the red and orange tungsten beaded nymphs from Manic have proved quite deadly when fished in tandem with small natural nymphs like Pheasant Tails or my Green Wire caddis.
Of course, it won’t be spring forever and sooner or later the big bugs need to come out. My New Zealand fly-tying legend friend Clark Reid (also a gifted sledger of all things Australian rugby on social media) has gone back to work at the vice after a long time off and is back to his fly tying creative best with his new CDC hopper pattern. It’s a simple fly, that lands softer than most hoppers, and shouldn’t spook sighted fish, yet is still just about the right size and tone for late summer and I look forward to reporting further on it’s fish-fooling abilities later in the season. You can get in touch with Clark on Facebook and would be mad not to also get some of his brilliant, and justifiably famous deer hair cicada patterns.
Loon Deep Soft Weight
This stuff is not new to me, though I haven’t used it much the last few seasons because of the low water everywhere which limited most small stream fishing to dry fly only. In the past I’ve used it a lot when fishing small water, with light rods and small nymphs early in the season or on flat, cold days where the fish won’t come up for a dry.
Basically, it’s a very sticky putty that, when warm, is very pliable and in a pinch is easily rolled onto a tippet to quickly add extra weight. Once it hits the cold water, it goes hard like a bit of lead shot. The shape and amount of weight, and where it sits on the leader or tippet is easily adjusted and, with a little experimentation, makes presenting even small, unweighted flies easy at any depth. The stuff is especially useful for deep plunge pools on tight water where there’s not enough room to adjust drift or leader length to get to the bottom.
Also, it bears mentioning that with a short two- or three-weight rod, having a heavier fly on a longer tippet to help it sink, is uglier to cast than a normal-length tippet and normal-weight fly with a little pinch of the weight at the leader to tippet knot.
Bloody tippet rings
England—the nation that gave us Monty Python, the Young Ones and not having a bath very often—must be chock full of smart-asses. Or, at the very least, there must be a couple of them at Partridge Hooks who feel no pity for the myopic antipodean fly-fishers who might buy their tippet rings.
Yes, at one millimetre, Partridge’s smallest tippet rings make the RIO 2-mm ones I was complaining about in my last leader bits-and-pieces review look positively big. No, I won’t be reviewing them because there’s no way I could tie one on, but yes, I will be keeping them in my vest for that time when some young, flat-cap, tattooed punk fly-fisher with those tie-down anchors in their ears asks can they borrow a tippet ring. Karma, especially that which is delivered by the older hand, is cruel at times, no?
Thankfully, the little care package Partridge sent me also had packs of their 2-mm and 3-mm round rings and oval rings in trout and salmon sizes. The trout-size oval ring is a great idea in my opinion as the extra length makes them easier to hold and turn while tying the knots and I think the salmon size may find use for my deep sinking line twin Booby rigs I sometimes fish in the lakes. As with any tippet ring, once installed they make changing out tippets very quick and will save your leader from the certain slow death of constantly tying, cutting off and re-tying new tippets to old leaders.
Trout Hunter fluorocarbon tippet
Daniel Hacket of Riverfly1864 put me onto this stuff during my late season trip to Tasmania and I ended up using it a lot at the end of last season, particularly on some of the bigger water I fish. The main point of difference between the Trout Hunter and other modern tippets I’ve used lately is the range of sizes. If you’re as pedantic about leader and tippet diameter as I am, you will appreciate the in-between sizes like 4.5 and 5.5 which make it easier to tie on the exact tippet you need for a particular fly size, weight and sink rate. It’s also easier to exactly marry up a fluorocarbon tippet to a standard leader on a very light rod where too much difference in diameter can make casting uglier than a robbers dog.
As far as spools go, Trout Hunter have really nailed it and they are very thin, have colour-coded line retainers and fit together perfectly and knot integrity and strength seems excellent.
Loon UV Knot Sense
There’s not much I can say about the Loon UV Knot Sense other than that it’s very, very good for its main purpose of coating nail knots at the fly-line/leader connection. After a little drop and then a cure with the UV light, it will slip effortlessly through the guides as opposed to catch every time and piss you off. Well, that’s how it works for me anyway. This stuff is also useful to have around for pinhole wader leaks and rough spots on fly lines.
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