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Roiled Water – Funky Fishing

The spring in Minnesota has been early and a bit on the wet side. We started on small tributaries to the Mississippi with mixed results and this condition has carried through into the last three weeks on the big river. The water color and visibility on the upper Mississippi has remained limited and murky due to repeated rain.

PlatteCloseEarly fishing in late June on the big river was pretty good, even though the visibility was limited to about 3 feet, which isn’t bad on the Ole Miss. Also interestingly enough nearly all the action was on top. Under water streamers and the like did not produce nearly as well as surface poppers, divers and gurglers.

We went two days ago on a stretch we’d fished four days previous. The earlier trip saw mainly smallmouth 17″ and up. Very nice fish although the numbers we’re mediocre. They hit hopper patterns and hardware, such as Chug Bugs and Buzzbaits.

Last Wednesday, July 6 was a gorgeous day with no wind and mild temps in the upper 70’s. Normally the fish should be going nuts under these conditions, but they were largely shut down for nearly the entire day. We managed a few sympathy fish on Murdich’s late in the day. Very weird.

I hope your fishing is not as up and down as ours, but alas, that’s fishing!

Repairing Fly Line & DIY Welded Loops

Welded Loops Made Easy

Nail Knots have been the traditional method for attaching fly line to leaders. Fly line manufacturers are now creating fly lines with welded loops on both ends to ease the attachment to both to the reel spool and leader material. Making a welded loop in your new or damaged fly line is relatively easy. Two techniques are discussed.

Fly Line Maintenance

Fly lines can be very expensive and, with proper maintenance, a quality line should last you several years. This will of course will vary on how often you fish and the frequency of cleaning and dressing applied to your line.

Most people reel up, put the rod/reel in a cover or case and forget about it until the next trip. This practice will generally shorten the life of the line. We suggest cleaning your fly line at least after every two trips and dress the line with a commercial dressing after cleaning.

One of the most common issues with fly lines is the degradation or breakdown of the end loop connecting the leader to the fly line. Nail knot connections are a great way to attached monofilament leaders to fly line, but over time, the connection can break down the plastic coating of the line exposing the inner core, which will eventually break.

Loop Connection

The easiest way to connect the fly line to the leader is with a loop to loop connection. Many lines now come with welded loops on both ends.

There are many less expensive fly lines on the market which perform very well and do not come with loops. This article is about creating a loop on both ends of your fly line, whether you are repairing a broken loop or creating a new one on a line without a manufactured welded loop.

Technique #1: Creating a New Loop

The first technique is an old Lefty Kreh method I discovered 25 years ago. This employs your Whip Finishing Tool to create a thread wrap entrapping the loop end. You then coat the thread wrap with a flexible cement, such as Contact Cement or the newer UV treated flex cement on the market.

I have used this for years, since you don’t need any special equipment, such as flex tubing and heating units (more on this later). The author below is heavily into carp, so don’t hold that against him.

Here’s a good video on how to do this technique:

Technique #2: Creating a Welded Loop

The welded loop is the best connection to create, if you don’t mind getting some special equipment for the job. You can create a welded loop a number of ways, but the simplest is in the video below.

Some folks use special heating units and other apparatus, but a standard lighter works quite well. All you really need is shrink wrap tubing (about 4 cm). Finding it is another issue. (Somebody send this guy a fingernail clipper…..)

Bum Trips – A Tough Pill to Swallow

We’ve all had them. Bum fishing trips. If you haven’t…you will.

I booked a DIY bonefishing trip to a far flung locale in the lovely Bahama chain. It is touted as an overlooked destination, not flogged to death like many of the Bahama’s more famous bonefish havens.

I received excellent information from the booking agent Vince Tobia with Cattaraugas Outfitters of New York representing a number of exotic outposts, and in this case: Great Inagua. Every communication from Vince was very professional, timely and detailed, helping me understand exactly what as in store.

We made the arrangements well in advance and I tied all the flies needed to handle bones, barracuda, and baby tarpon. And had a number of rods to handle any circumstance including a NuCast 8+ and 10 wt rods. I also used a Blue Crush Saltwater Fly Reel.

We finally arrived at Matthewtown, the only settlement on the island (an outpost for Morton Salt). We were met by our charming host Henry Hugh who did a great job of providing for our needs, cooked meals, and helped in other ways.

The lodging was comfortable given it’s very remote location. We were provided a small truck to drive around to all the fishing spots accessible by road, as part of the package deal.

Sounds good right? The best parts of the trip were seeing many exotic bird species, including the gaudy West Indian Flamingos now allowed to flourish on remote parts of the island.

Weather: No Problem
The weather was typical for a week long trip with a couple days of perfect light winds and bright sun. Other days were windy, typical for the Caribbean, but we had good viewing skies with few pesky clouds, most of time. This is critical for bonefishing and any type of site fishing, especially in saltwater.

We were given a detailed map showing all the “drive-to” locations for bones and baby tarpon. Included one day was a guided trip where we followed a local for several hours in search of tarpon.

pissed150The Main Problem? Fishing was Lousy!
One of the main issues: I am admittedly a beginning bonefisherman. I have caught bones in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Mexico & Belize, but never really been on a bonefishing trip, per se.

Tidal stages are key in understanding the movement of these fish. Most of the locations were touted as best fished at low tides. This makes since as the fish are shallower, making them easier to spot. However, with drive-time being at least an hour between spots, the tide does have a tendency to change constantly and we were not always there at optimum times.

We fished for five days. I hooked a total of six and landed two small bonefish. I expected to do this easily in one morning’s fishing. My wife and I drove everywhere, trying to find flats holding fish (while we were there) with little to no luck.

Although the accommodations were very nice for a “hard-to-get-to” location ( to put it nicely), I became increasingly frustrated by the apparent lack of fish.

I’ll put most of the blame on me, not understanding where the fish should be when, etc. But my expectations were SOOO high, it was really a big letdown. I assumed with all these unfettered fish, we’d have many opportunities whether there at the perfect time, or not. Other anglers at the Inagua Outback Lodge at the same time – were repeat customers and caught some fish, but I got the feeling not a lot.

Finally toward the end of the trip, we found a flat with some fish and hooked up a few. By that time I was pretty disenchanted with the whole thing.

We ran into some other anglers who had booked through a local (the only) guide on the island and done fairly well for the week. This told me the fish were there, but these anglers accessed the areas via boat and not car, as we did.

As a relative beginner bonefisherman – to do it again, I’d go to a location where one could rack up some numbers (even if the fish were smaller) to gain experience and employ a bonefish guide.

Once I understand the game better, I might try a DIY trip again. If you ARE an experienced bonefishing angler, I would recommend Vince Tobia with several destinations of which to choose.

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