Monday, May 21, 2018

Reconditioning Graphite Rods (Part I)

A few months ago, one of my working colleagues told me, she found in the cellar of her new home some fishing gear, some rods, and reels. Two of the rods looked like a fly fishing gear in her opinion and asked me if I don’t need them. Of course, I said yes. Big surprise when I saw the rods, two ultralight graphite spinning rods from the beginning of the 90’s. Without to think too much about, I took them and let them rest in a corner of my room. Some weeks after, on a sunny day, I had the muse to put a fly fishing reel on them and to make some casts on the loan. I was surprised about the smoothness of these blanks, so I thought it would be nice to give them a second life.

First of all, I removed the duplon grips and the guides. The rods have been built on asymmetric blanks, one of them with a length of 8’, the second one 6’8’’. Brought the blanks to Theo Matschewsky, a very skilled german rodsmith. He measured them, the smaller one corresponding to a 2wt and the longer to a 3wt rod with a medium-fast action. Theo exchanged the tips with solid carbon tips (Solitip, a method he developed during the years) and enforced the cuffs with carbon fiber (Solicuff). Next step was to remove the coating of the blanks and put on them a thin polyurethane coating, making them look vintage. 

Mounting the Ritz cork grips and lightweight reel seats have been the next step. Now that the guide spacing is also done, just have to wrap the guides and finish the rods. Stay tuned for the next stage of this two rods. 

For more information about the Solitip take a look at Theo's webpage:
...or watch him on youtube: Solitip

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mayfly time...

"Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels. But their magic sparkles in nature." - Lynn Holland

May time is their time. I can lay in the grass, on the bank of the river and watch them dance for hours. It's pure magic. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Kola Peninsula - Part II

After long discussions about the situation, we renounced to the rotation on Eastern Litza. There was nothing left to do but to take the boat and try to catch some fish from the deep pools in the middle of the river. Heavy tackle, extra fast sinking lines, big weighted rabbit streamer, a long and tiring battle started, like the siege of a fortress. We managed to capture some fish between 2-4lbs but the result was unsatisfactory. 

One day we went to Oset to try our luck on one of Kharlovka's tributaries, a small creek. After a good walk, we reached that place. The creek was a wild river. After another day without the desired results, we slowly headed towards the base camp, passing by a snow wall of impressing dimensions. On the day before the last day, insects began discreetly to hatch, first some brown caddis, then small and medium-sized stoneflies. Fishing from the shore not far away from Andre, I saw he needed help. His rod was bent to the edge. After a few minutes, he managed to bring a superb male fish to the net.

Looking on the water surface, I saw a suspect move a few meters offshore. I tied a Kola Killer and cast into that place. After the second strip, I felt a heavy pull in the rod and the reel started to scream. Suddenly the fish stopped its race and then turned quickly into the shore direction. With long strips, I managed to keep the tension in the line. The fish swam in front of me and headed for the branches of a submerged tree. I knew that if it came into the branches, the battle was lost so I put more power into the bent rod. With an annoying sound, the last segment broke a few inches away from the ferrule. The fish managed to win the battle, breaking the tipped.

Fortunately, I was able to recover my broken segment before it plunged into Kharlovka's deep and wild waters. As I arrived in the camp, I headed for my tent. I was tired and disappointed. The last day arrived. After breaking the camp, we decided to spend the hours before the helicopter arrived at the home pool. Fishing with the two-handed rod, I managed to capture a beautiful trout around 5lbs on a caddis pupa, the biggest fish I caught during the whole week and also my new trout best personal record. The helicopter arrived much earlier than expected, then started the long and tiring way home.

The Russian tundra is a wild and unpredictable backcountry in all aspects. Although the expedition was planned for the week that over the years proved to be the most prolific, this time it was not so. I traveled so far to fish with the dry fly for capital trout specimens. Unfortunately, insects didn't hatch (especially ephemerids) and the fish were all caught with a heavy streamer or deep-fished nymphs. The number of catches was extremely small.

The first two fishing weeks offered by the organizing company were canceled due to the weather conditions and the high water levels. All of our group and most of the other groups felt that this week should have been canceled too and reprogrammed, later in the summer or for next year considering the disability conditions in which we started and continued the fishing week. It would have been a different situation if the weather conditions were suddenly broken during the week. The rest of the organization was good, the logistics side evolved smoothly and the tents were in good condition. The Kola Peninsula is a great place and I can recommend it to any fly fisherman who is looking for big brown trout. Fishing in Kola is not cheap, but the sensation you have when you're there is unique. I definitely know, one day I'll return.

© Pictures by V.A.Rusu, Andre Hesselrot
For more pictures visit Andre's blog: FLYSLINGERS

Friday, April 6, 2018

Ide (Orfe) & Ants

With the coming of spring, water temperature is rising and fish become more active. A fish that deserves special attention during the spring months is the ide (orfe) (Leuciscus idus). Often this fish is mistaken by the not so skilled fishermen with their relative, the chub (Leusciscus cephalus) with which they divide their habitat. After the spawning season, the orfe prefers the backwaters. These are quite rich in species but not easy to fish. Fly fishing has a clear advantage compared to the ground- and spin fishing.

At the end of winter, this fish gathers in large swarms that move to their spawning grounds in the spring. In order for the fish to become active, the water temperature must rise to at least 7-8 ° C. The ide can be outwitted with the fly from early spring to the late autumn days. In the first weeks of spring, when the water is still very cold, you can catch ide with the nymph, but when the water gets a little warmer, the fish hunt just below the water surface. This makes the orfe an ideal candidate for the dry fly. They hunt mostly in small groups (2-3 specimen), however, capital fish are loners.

Among the most successful dry fly patterns are insects (terrestrials). I achieved good results with ant patterns as well as with foam hawthorn flies. Under the water surface, ide can be easily caught with small black spiders, butcher fly or small baitfish patterns. I tie the ants on dry fly hook size 14-16.

The fish are very spooky and the accurate presentation of the fly is urgently needed. After a spoiled cast, there is usually no second chance. It is best to place the fly gently on the water surface with a parachute cast about 0.5-1 m in front of the fish. Compared to his relative, the chub, who looks at the fly from all sides before it can decide to take it or not, ide is much more determined.

With a floating WF line, you are well equipped. The leaders I use usually have a length of 12-14 feet. The connection to the approx. 0.5 m long, 6X or 5X fluorocarbon tippet is made by a Pitzinger ring (small metal ring). Length and rod class should depend on the type of water you are fishing, but don't go over 5wt.

Abdomen and head of the small ants are made of two drops of hot glue, black rooster hackles and a white CDC tag for a better view. In one of the following posts, I'll present a step-by-step tying tutorial of this ant pattern.
I'd like to hear about your experience with this fish on the fly. What is your favorite fly pattern? 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Kola Peninsula - Part I

The heavy raindrops were falling at a monotonous pace on the tarp of the tent. After a prolific fly fishing week on one of Greenland's remote rivers, we were waiting for the boat to bring us back to civilization. The last cigar and a bottle of booze kept us company while Lars showed me pictures of previous years in the Kola Peninsula. Several stories and movies of Kola were enough to put the bad seed into my soul. 

Two years later (it took longer than I imagined), was on the plane, on my way to Oslo where I was going to meet the rest of the group. The next day, we took the plane to Kirkenes, then headed a minibus to Murmansk. The road to the biggest northernmost European harbor city was long and tedious. The check-in was followed by a hot shower and a copious meal, after which I retired to save my forces for the next day.

Around midday, we boarded again in minibusses and headed for the helicopter, an old IM-8. We arrived late at the point of departure. While waiting for the chopper, we met some fishermen from Argentina who fished the Belousiha and Voronia river for salmon and had a chit-chat. They complained about the very high water level.    
Altogether we were four groups. The helicopter made its appearance with deafening noise. After boarding, a short flight followed to the famous base camp on the Rynda River. The disinfection of the equipment began while a cold breeze from the Barents Sea was blowing. A fisherman tried his luck in the Rynda home pool from a boat. As long as we stayed there, his attempts to catch a salmon were futile.

After the first two groups departed, it was our turn to get the stuff into the chopper. We made the boarding with running engines to save time. As we got up from the ground, the chalets on Rynda became smaller and then fade into the vast field of the tundra. For a while we flew East, alongside the coast, passing the mouth of Eastern Litza River, which was extremely swollen, then took the curse to Kharlovka Dreampool. There were large stretches of land covered by snow. As a Kola novice, it was hard to make an appreciation from the air, but when I spotted the majestic Kharlovka with its immense luster of water and the shores partly covered with ice and snow, I looked at Lars face, who knew the area as well as his own pockets and realized it was not good. I was excited and somewhat disappointed about what we found. It wasn't exactly what I imagined.  

Gathered over the luggage, we stared at the helicopter that was getting smaller and rotor noise became a barely perceptible sound, then disappeared completely. For a short time, we were surrounded by an abyssal silence.

We managed within an hour to raise the entire camp. The third day since I left home, was coming to an end. Adrenaline and the desire to fish the water we dreamed for so long, have made us move more easily over the fatigue accumulated during the last days. Together with Andre went fishing the area downstream the camp, while the rest of the team remained to fish the home pool. 

We watched for a while the water surface without to see any rising fish, then started our casts into the unknown. After a few hours of futile fishing, the sensation of angling in a bathtub was getting stronger and stronger. The walk along the swampy banks was a tough job. Tired, we decided to end our fishing day. It was past three o'clock in the morning when we arrived the tents. Next morning, while taking breakfast, we saw pictures of the first landed trout, a beautiful specimen over 4 lb caught by Javier.  

With fresh forces, we began fishing the upstream places, meter by meter.  Suddenly Andre gave me a sign. His rod was bent and he needed help. Unfortunately, it was not the expected fish. A 5,5lb pike felt attracted by his zonker. Another day passed without trout activity. High water and low temperature, delayed the hatching of insects.

Next day, we crossed the river with a pneumatic boat and went looking for the fish in one of the lakes in the area. Andre showed me a hot spot that I fished with a small caddis nymph and brought me the first fish, a 1lb trout, a small specimen for these waters. Meanwhile, Mike and Erik managed to catch some nice fish from the boat using big furry streamer and sinking lines. It was time to change strategy.

(to be continued)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

R.I.P. Lefty Kreh (1925-2018)

Yesterday, 14.03.2018 one of the most prolific fly fishing stars faded away. Lefty Kreh died at the age of 93. Most of us watched his videos, read his books and tied his fly patterns. For those who never heard about Lefty, he was a fly fisherman, photographer, and casting instructor, a pioneer of saltwater fly fishing. In his long life, Lefty wrote over 30 books about fly fishing, casting and fly tying. His most famous pattern is his deceiver fly, that he designed in the late 50's as a streamer that would be easy to cast in wind and would not foul. 

His prolific fly fishing and fly tying activity inspired me a lot. I prepared myself for my first saltwater fly fishing trips with his books that I can recommend to every fly fisherman. I love to fish the deceiver and caught great fish on it. For me, Lefty will always be a shiny star on the firmament of fly fishing.
Rest in peace Lefty, wherever you'll be right now...  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Early Spring Barbel

About a month ago, during a fly fishing session for hucho in some home water, we (Liviu, Silviu and myself) decided to rejoin at the beginning of March. At that time we did not have an exact date and location. After we checked out our working schedules, we realized that it was only the first weekend in March that would fit for all of us. After some search on the internet, Silviu found a river somewhere between Regensburg and Zurich with a mixed population of cyprinids and salmonids.

We started our trip Friday afternoon, after work. Outside it was cold and started to snow while we hit the road. After arriving (late) in the evening, we went to savor the specific culinary specialties of the area, then spent the late night hours with some chit chat till the sandman joined us.

Next morning was sunny. We took our fishing licenses and left to check out the water. The river was much larger than I imagined and more beautiful than in the pictures found on the internet. Although the first sunrays warmth the earth the whole morning, the air temperature was somewhere at 5 ° C and would not exceed 7 ° C during the day. The water temperature was somewhere at 3-4 ° C and the banks were covered with snow and ice. Silviu and I decided to fish with nymphs, Liviu started with a streamer.

In a rush of the river, Liviu saw some big fish. Climbed on the edge of a slope, myself and Silviu were looking for those big specimens. I saw some golden fish flanks shining in the sunlight. They were barbels. I usually catch these fishes with the artificial fly late spring/early summer or in autumn. I caught my largest barbel specimen a few years ago on a sunny April day, on some other water, one day with much more sun and higher temperatures.  After we inspected the surface of the water a bit, we started fishing. Some brown caddis started to hatch. Not long after, I saw Silviu's rod bent. At first, he thought he had a snag, but after a few moments, the snag started to move slowly upstream. The first fish of the game, a beautiful 57 cm barbel with a weight around 4 lbs. Not long after, Silviu manages to fool another fish. While Silviu was occupied with his second barbel, I felt a short and fine jerk in the line, rose the rod and started my drill in parallel with Silviu. This time 58 and 62 cm. Several beautiful fish followed. Liviu joined us and after some time he hooked a big fish. There was a fierce fight. The fish managed to get into the current and won the round. Around four o'clock we decided to end this gorgeous fishing game.

1. Doesn't matter what kind of weather conditions you are dealing with, go out on water and fish. You'll catch only if your fly is in the water.

2. Fish confident your nymphs. Go big even early in the spring. We fished Czech nymphs on big hooks no. 8.

3. Bring your fly fast to the bottom where the fish is. You can do this by using heavy nymph patterns (2x or more BH, heavy lead wire body), using lead shots or tungsten paste but take care, there are rivers where it is forbidden to do this. 

4. When you're doing Czech nymphing in spring, the take can be pretty gingerly. For a better feeling, we are using as a leader a long piece of mono (8-10m) connected to a fluorocarbon tippet (approx. 50 cm) by a Pitzinger ring (small metal ring).  

5. Fishing during the first spring weeks can be pretty hard. Don't underestimate the cold water and get some extra under before you step into the wet. Some hot tea can be also a good idea.  

V.A.R. & S.S.