Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Weed Guard for Brownliners?

While wandering the streets of Boca Grande three weeks ago I ducked into, what else, Boca Grande Outfitters on Park Ave. I was looking for a wide brimmed hat for the coming summer days on the water when I happened upon their stock of saltwater flies. They had the standard fair of home spun goodies (from Singapore no doubt). What interested me most was their offerings from Enrico Puglisi. I've never heard of this guy before, but they carried a wide variety of his streamers in just about every color combination I've seen. So, I perused the rack for what I'm sure seemed like eternity to the local help. Oooo, a blue over white, neato! There's an olive over yellow with red gills, nice. And this one with vertical stripes, looks like a baby bass or crappie. That's a winner!.

"That'll be seven dollars and fifty six cents. Cash or credit?" (not including a hat.) Regardless, it's a pretty cool fly. Enrico calls it an Oscar. My older brother had one in his aquarium for about 4 years until it out grew it's 20 gallons and became fertilizer for the bushes outside his college apartment window... probably not the same breed.

"So, how is all this related to weed guards?". Well, if you're a regular Enrico customer you know that some of his flies have a double drop weed guard made of heavy gauge mono. I was particularly interested in this because according to Mr. Barton over at Singlebarbed, I'm a brownliner (well... almost), and I need weed guards on my flies because of where I cast. I also, like most fly fishers, tie my own from time to time and I'm not convinced the single loop guard is as reliable as the fly manufacturers seem to think. So I decided to incorporate the double drop into my own creations. It's actually a pretty easy technique, and you can add it to just about any design.

Still on board? Read on...

Enrico Puglisi Oscar (length: 4 inches)

If you look closely (above) you can see how the guard is draped over the hook near the eye. It's tied in with over-and-under figure eights to hold it down. I'm guessing the mono is pre-stressed at the bend to keep it's shape and speed up the production process. I was able to tie mine (below) with four or five loops around the drops under the shank, followed a few over-and-under figure eights to hold them tight to the shank.

John Graham over at at Prairie State Outdoors featured a Holschlag Hackle Fly a few posts ago that caught my eye. It seemed to me a good candidate for a weedless. Here's my version.

Weedless Holschlag Hackle Fly

The guard is tied in before the chenille and hackle are brought forward. It's no trouble at all to thread both between the two sides of mono on the way to the eye. I'm fairly happy with my first attempt. Next time I'll try to get the guard to lean back a few degrees so it slides over obstructions easier.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yes, I am an Idiot

Don't ask. I know. There's something wrong with me. I spent a week in fishing paradise and didn't cast a single fly. I brought no tackle with me, and I have no pictures of me holding a red fish or a tarpin. I even took a day trip with Terri to Boca Grande, quite possibly the Tarpin Capital of the United States and all I did was wander around town and shop. I am an idiot.

On one of the warmer days I sailed a small trimaran into a shallow protected bay on the east side of Captiva. The red fish were definitely catchable. The weather was, as was every day, perfectly beautiful. A couple of days later I rented a Hobie Mirage Adventure. If your not familiar with Hobie's kayak line you're in for a pleasant surprise. A few years ago Hobie invented a pedal drive system that's now available on their Mirage class kayaks. The friendly folks at Captiva Kayaks set me up with a kayak, drive pedals, kayak paddle, drybag, and water. I spend about forty-five minutes cruising up and down the shore and criss-crossing the ICW effortlessly peddling in recumbent style and making a wake (I kid you, not). I was in heaven. The only time I used the paddle was to see top end speed combining both drive methods. It was a bit awkward, and the paddle spent most of the time strapped to the gunwale. As soon as we got home to Illinois I did some research on Hobie and discovered their newest creation, The Pro Angler. All I'm sayin' is Google "Hobie Pro Angler". Here, I'll do it for you. I recommend you follow the link to Kayak Fish Nation. Those guys are sic.

Terri and I promised each other we would return to Captiva soon. I promised myself I would would bring my tackle and rent that Hobie Kayak again. And next time I'm bringin' home pictures.

We're Surrounded by Millionaires

Original writing: Feb 23rd

What a difference forty years makes. Terri and I are in Captiva, Florida as I write this. She's out shopping in Sanabel and I've just finished a walk through the asphalt streets to reacquaint myself. My wife and I planned this trip a few months ago as our annual late-winter vacation. Travel costs are out of control so we decided to stay within the contiguous forty-eight. The last time I was here I was about five years old. Young enough to get lost and just old enough to remember what it was like here so long ago. Back then most, if not all, of the roads were nothing more than shell covered sand. The homes were small, one story unconditioned cottages tucked away in the lush green of palm and banyan trees wrapped in vines of every sort. Every day on the way to the beach my older brothers, sister, and I would run from shady forage to shady forage lest we burn the bottoms of our feet. In the evenings we'd follow mom and dad to the local diner, all the way pushing and teasing each other about snakes and crocodiles hiding in the bushes.

As I reminisce I realize the monsters have been replaced. Nestled among the bushes and finely trimmed lawns are two and three story million dollar McMansions. Oh, they're fine looking homes, but what bothers me is the slow and comfortable pace that's missing on the island. No longer are the quaint sandy roads. No longer are the people walking about visiting. No longer do lemonade sipping elders wave from their front porch as I walk by. Everyone is snug in the cool dwellings of modern convenience surrounded with DO NOT ENTER, NO TRESPASSING, ARMED RESPONSE and FOR SALE signs. Today there was a traffic jam at Andy Rosse Lane and Captiva Drive. The UPS truck was double parked for a delivery at the Bubble Room gift shop. I simply walked through the mess in amazement that they absolutely needed to hop in the family Rover to drive 5 blocks to The Mucky Duck. "Hey folks! The high today is 74!. How `bout ridin' a bike?"

Our rental unit is not fancy by any stretch. But it
serves it's purpose in modest comfort, and it's in the middle of "town". Live music plays every day from across the street at the Key Lime. It soothes my soul when I can hear it between the passing cars.

It's two o'clock and my beer's about finished. Terri's not back yet, so I guess I'll head over to the general store, pick up a tin of Macanudo's and an ice cream Drum Stick, and read my book on the beach.

I'm gettin' pretty good at that ring game.