Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Little Pre Holiday Fishing Trip to the Big Easy

Back in July while tarpon fishing with Greg Dini in Florida,  he casually mentioned that an opening had just materialized for Nov 30 and Dec 1 down in Louisiana-  a prime time trophy redfish and he had a spot available.  Greg is a rather sought after guide, and I had heard great things about "bull" redfish in the early winter, so naturally I booked the days.  (Greg owns / operates Fly Water Expeditions)  Really a fishy and fun dude!!

A few months later, when I mentioned it to my wife, she nearly fell out of her chair.  "That is Thanksgiving weekend you  !!%$#"   Oops - but what was done was done.   She needed a break from me anyway, with all of the pre Christmas stress and all.

My buddy, Chris (A.K.A "Tangles") miraculously got a hall pass and signed on to try his hand at the saltwater game.  Game on!

A short flight to New Orleans, a room in the French Quarter, and all we needed to do was not to over eat/drink and we would be fishing less than an hour out of downtown Big Easy.  If you have never been picked up at 6 am from a hotel in the French Quarter by a two ton truck towing a flats skiff, that alone is worth the trip!   A quick trip to this beautiful fun filled city was the smartest thing I have done in a long time. 

We fished with 9 wt Sage Salt Fly Rods which we over-lined with 10WT Rio Gen Purpose Tropical and SA Redfish Warm Fly Lines.  Normally, I hate overlining rods, but the average cast to these fish was 20-30 feet and the rod felt great uber overlined on the short casts.  Again - I can't tell you how important it is to use the right line for particular fishing situations!

The water was fairly clear, but there was a ton of overcast hazy skies, and visibility was generally lousy.  I don't understand how 3 sets of eyes had a hard time seeing 25 pond fish - but they would magically appear really close to the boat.  I think the longest cast we made in two days was probably 40'  Short quick casts were usually instantly rewarded.  It was nothing short of amazing to watch these fish charge the purple 4" streamers!

That was the first fish of the trip after 5 minutes on the bow!

Chris landed his very first redfish a short while later - not a bad start to his young saltwater career!

We didn't catch a million fish -but the action was fairly consistent.  We managed to set personal bests, second bests, third bests etc etc

A 9 wt rod seemed to be the perfect option, and the Nautilus NVG 8/9 , the Loop Opti Speedrunner and Sage 4210 all got some serious workouts!   Unlike battling bonefish or permit, we quickly learned that applying a lot of drag and a lot of pressure is pretty important when duking it with heavy redfish.  30 pound leaders also hep!

There are literally hundreds of square miles of shallow water flats from New Orleans down to Venice, and basically all along the Gulf shoreline from Texas to Florida.  Redfish are the perfect gamefish in many ways.  They readily eat flies, they are not to picky usually, they grow big, they give anglers second and third chances, and they pull hard!  If you are ever in the need for a quick, easy and infinitely fun getaway, you might want to check out a redfish destination!!!! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Fly Tying Materials

As we enter into fall, we start focusing on fly tying and staying in the game of fly fishing.

Every year dozens of new materials come on the market and we incorporate them into our patterns- here we profile a few that are worth checking out - all of which are found in our Fly Tying Selection!

Every streamer pattern needs eyes - and these are pretty handy.  Basically lead eyes with a better paint job that places emphasis on the pupils.  We are big believers that fish like or are very aware of eyes when hunting down their prey.  Double Pupil Lead Eyes

For those of you tying streamers that you don't want to weight down, but are still looking to incorporate very realistic eyes - check out the Fish Skull Mask and add the hyper realistic Fish Skull Living Eyes

The Fish Skull Mask is a clear epoxy head that is very light.  It will not add appreciable sink rate - but will move or push water and give you a place to attach the realistic Living Eyes (a lot easier that creating your own epoxy heads to boot!)  The selection or variety of Fish Skull Living Eyes is pretty awesome

For those of you that like tying intruder style or  spey flies, we have recently started carrying a superior product - OPST Barred Ostrich (aka Signature Intruder Drabs) 
These are hand selected Ostrich Plumes that have stout butts and tapered, fine tips.  Selected for length and features that are applicable to this type of tying, they are dyed and barred to the highest standards.  Great stuff!

We also have added a trailer hook to our selection from the folks at OPST. 
The OPST Swing Hooks are barbless, and have a slightly upturned eye, and are perfect for all patterns that call for a trailer hook.  People swear that these hang on to fish, and due to their shape and bend, tend to hook more in the corner of mouths, similar to circle hooks

New from Greg Senyo this year are a bunch of new colors of his Senyo's Barred Predator Wrap.  This material adds movement and color on spey flies as well as musky streamers and everything in between.  Just a few wraps - and your patterns take on a whole new dimension!

And last but not least - a great new tool that makes handling and attaching beads a whole lot easier!
The Beadmaster Tool works with almost any size bead and helps you place it exactly where you want without pricking your finger, or rolling down the hall

Happy Tying!

Friday, August 7, 2015

IFTD 2015 - Some of the people behind the brands

Every year since 2001, Jon and I have joined other industry folk that gather at the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show to get a first peek at what's going on in this industry. 

And every year, I am reminded / struck by the fact, that for an incredibly tiny industry, we are blessed with some of the most passionate, creative and inventive people that bring their passions and talents to work each day and create great gear. 

This year, there was a bigger buzz or energy than recent years past, and this was evident by a crop of new products - big and small.  Allow me to introduce you to a few people behind these new products.

You know their gear, and they have an incredible team of engineers and designers, but
Jerry Siem's DNA is embedded all over Sage Fly Rods.  He has designed as is responsible for some of the best known and best loved fly rods ever produced -including this year's "Best New Freshwater Rod" the MOD Series.  To boot, Jerry is a hell of a nice guy and incredible caster/angler.  Always great to catch up with him and Team Sage's new products - both rods and reels are going to be huge hits. The entire line-up of products is scheduled to arrive at ChiFly by late August.  Stay tuned...

It's no secret that we here at ChiFly are fans of Nautilus Reels.  Please meet Kristen Mustad, the man behind this brand.  Year in and year out, Kristen and his team develop game changing innovations and frankly reels that are awesome.  Congrats on their yet to be officially named  new reel that won "Best new Freshwater Reel" and "Best new Saltwater Reel" - The soon to be re-named "Nautilus X" Available late 2015/early 2106

Meet John Le Coq, one of the co-founders of Fishpond USA.  He is pictured here at their booth standing next to a picture of his father - the man who inspires John daily.  John and his partners the brothers Kurtz are innovative, conservation minded folks that bring beautiful products to life - and have a unique and original perspective on gear design.  This year, they will be introducing addition packs, bags and slings with waterproof zippers and materials that are made from recycled fishing nets.  Congrats on winning "Best of Show Eco Friendly Product" and "Best of Show Chest Pack/Vest" category!

Tough to introduce just one person from Team Simms - so here is a group shot of KC Walsh and his uber talented team.  This company has grown up so incredibly much in the past 15 years, and it's been a privilege and a ton of fun to grow along with them!   Congrats on  winning 7 Best of  Show Category awards!  As a Simms Platinum Dealer - you will see every single one of their award winners at ChiFly soon!

And last but not least, please meet Jim Bartschi, the chief rod designer at Scott Fly Rods showing off the Scott Meridian.  Congrats on winning not only the "Best Saltwater Fly Rod", but also the big daddy "Best of Show" overall award!  Jim has an uncanny ability to design rods with distinct personalities.  By that I mean, when you cast his Meridian or Radian - they have a feel that is so unique - and that my friends is Jim's DNA.  Great team over at Scott - and great to see Jim and Scott get their much deserved recognition!!!

There are so many more great individuals behind so many awesome products or brands - and look forward to other introductions soon. 

Tight Lines Soon - Andy K

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SW Wisconsin report 4/26/15

Jon was up in the Driftless last week for a few days of fishing.  The water was in great shape despite a bit of rain Sunday night.  The flora seem to mirror last year’s late spring.  The ground is still brown with ramps and other seasonals beginning to sprout.  

 Reminder:  Early trout season closes on Sunday, April 26th and reopens on Saturday, May 2nd 

Fishing was good sub-surface with Caddis Larva, small Pheasant Tails, and Scuds.  The black caddis have begun hatching on streams with water temps in the mid 40’s.  More fish have moved into the holding lies:  The seams at the heads of pools and tailouts.  

Most fish were fairly chunky and colorful from having a wide variety of active food scources.  


The rocks on most creeks we looked at were teeming with life.  BWO wing pads were dark indicating imminent emergence.

Upcoming hatches and a few particularly good flies flies to use and now available on our site: 

BWO's  - Dries and nymphs!


 Black Caddis - an early season favorite!

Craneflies - A really fun top water species - you should always have these in your box

Midges Always present - especially important in spring and fall!

Reminder:  Early trout season closes on Sunday, April 26th and reopens on Saturday, May 2nd   

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wisconsin Opener

 Niall McCarthy, our newest employee, shares what opening weekend of this years Wisconsin Trout Opener looked like.  This is Niall's first post:

Last weekend my friends and I went up to the Driftless for the trout opener as we have for many years now.

This past weekend looked like it would be one of the more promising weekends, especially compared to our experience last season (see below)

My brother, Watson my dog, and I drove up Saturday morning and got to the first stream around 10 am. Within the first few casts I hooked into a nice little brown on the reliable pink squirrel. I let my brother fish and he had immediate success as well, on an olive bugger.

  Watson celebrated our success by jumping in the river and learning how to swim for the first time.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the extent of our success for the day. We came across a pod of rising fish in a super clear and shallow tail out but were too lazy or greedy to switch to dries. Most streams were still very low, clear and had a fair amount of shelf ice on them.

We found a few sections that were ice free but most of the water was pretty fast for this time of the year. My friend measured a few streams and they were all around 35 degrees or so.

On Sunday, we found one hole on a lower spring creek that gave up a fair amount of fish from stripping nymphs through the pool.

A new brewery opened in Soldiers Grove called Driftless Brewing Company. Michael, one of the brewers gave us a tour. I sampled the golden ale, brown and pale, all of which were excellent.  Check it out next time you are in the area.

The other good news is there’s a major heat wave going on in the upper midwest for the next week which should melt most or all of the snow. Here is what remains as of 3/10.

I would imagine the streams get punched for the rest of the week but could drop into good shape by the weekend.  Get out there and fish - it is going to be a great season!