Tuesday, December 14, 2010


First things first, here is the latest build on my table. While I have three builds going right now (a 2wt, a Lamiglass 3wt, and this one), this is the only active one. The other two are waiting on either parts or motivation. Both have yet to arrive in the mail.

This build is for Chris B. who heard of Ronnie's mid-weight quick stick and wanted one. As soon as MHX opened their line to fly rods, I jumped on it and got his build started. From there it has taken some interesting design directions, since he wants it to be subtle, but attractive. Building on black blanks is limiting for varied design, but I think I found the ticket.

The Struble U-17HG seat came in the other day along with the thread, and they pair perfectly. I didn't want to do the standard black-black-black, so am using the grey U-17 seat and matching grey thread with a darker metallic for the trim. You all know my opinion on color preserver, but I think I may be forced to use it from an aesthetic position on this rod. I'll do test wraps and find out if I can nix it.

Next job is to finish turning the grip and fighting butt. I'll do it when I'm not fishing. Speaking of which....

I went as planned, well, sort of as planned. I didn't go overnight, or even dark-time morning. I woke up at 1am feeling very tired, a little flu-like, and not in any kind of mood to be frozen. I left, instead, at 7am feeling MUCH better. I made the right call. I'll do night fishing some other time.

I got on the water a little before 10am, and the temperature was hovering around 12 degrees. I dressed appropriately, and didn't feel chilly except during breaks when I took off my jacket, hat and gloves. It felt good to be cold for a while, but it was never a distraction during fishing! I spent the most time I ever have dealing with frozen-ness: guides, line, leader, fly, and reel all would ice solid without constant maintenance. My boots, still wet from the previous trip, went on frozen as well--that was a challenge.

This was a pure, hardcore Brown fishing trip. I wasn't interested in Rainbows, or any other fish I may run into down there. I love my 'bows, but I was a man on a mission. No matter what, I decided I'd not give up the go at catching a Brownie. It was gonna be a Brown or nothing! Expecting to catch none the whole day, I tried to enjoy it by really taking in the scenery. There were some great views, sights, and sounds--and I didn't take a photo of any of it! I just got in the zone, and waded slowly, fishing my way downstream in a very relaxed sort of mood.

I stuck to my streamers, having tied on a #6 Sculpzilla at the car. On the first cast across the current, a fairly nice Brown flashed over and up as the fly swung down and by him. This instant interest in my fly was crucial for my day, I think. Up until now, on my 10 or so trips to this river, I only think I hooked up with one Brown. I was convinced that I had some sort of curse or block against them. Seeing this early on gave me confidence to really fish my flies and be patient. For me, it's easy to lose hope after a while, and I definitely notice a difference when I'm presenting flies with confidence.

The Brown in the photo hit a ways into the day, but I knew it would come--and it did. I changed to a #6 Slump Buster after toying with some rising 'bows. At first, the high sink rate worried me because I had numerous snagdowns with the larger rocks on the bottom. I kept fishing and kept swinging as I went, focusing on deep, slow runs with good cover. It was only a matter of time.

She hit it hard, chasing it down from a few yards away and put up a great fight for being so cold. I was surprised by her strength and gusto, and had to quickly get my reel unfrozen so I could get on the reel. A few minutes later, she was in my net and ready for photos. While I was taking the last one, my camera died ("low battery") and she released a good number of her eggs all over the front of my waders. Preserving battery, I didn't take many more photos on the trip (I found out later that they were fine, it was just the cold that sapped them; I'll have to find a warm place for next trip).

The second Brown came a little while after, and actually was hooked in the right pectoral fin with the Sculpzilla. He put up a heart-stopping fight, jumping and running for at least 5 or 6 minutes. Foul-hooking has a way of making the fights more exciting...but what a bummer. During the fight, he scared two or three other Browns in the vicinity out of the water, so much so and so often that there were two points where I was very confused about what fish I was actually fighting--splashes in one direction and my line in another.

Some people think they're ugly and just good for a great battle on a rod. Well, they are great fighters as I found out today, but holding them and seeing them close gave me an appreciation for their beauty. They are certainly all business with their camouflage, gaping mouths, teeth, and sheer muscle. They're clearly smart, clearly spooky, and clearly great predators. I don't think they'll be topping my list and displacing wild Rainbows, but I do think I'll continue to target them purposely and specifically next time I return to this river where Browns and 'Bows live side-by-side.

I missed another two or three, and had at least that many more flash and refuse. Had I hooked up with every Brown I saw/felt, it would have been one hell of a day...especially for never having come close to bringing one to hand before. It's amazing what a little determination mixed with some patience and stealth will do....

I'm ready for more!


  1. Awesome reports buddy! I'm excited about the rod but it really made my day hearing you got some browns!

  2. Great story - Browns are always fun.

    As far as the rod - I used a crimson red wrap with metallic grey for the trim and it came out great. Called it the Buckeye in honor of my wife's alma mater. You will need to use the color preserver.


  3. Envy both the thought of getting out and fishing for Browns when it is so cold, and, the custom rod work you do. Looking forward to more fishing and rod building posts to come.