You may recall in an earlier newsletter I included an article about a practical joke my father played on one of his dearest friends, who like my father, was an avid angler and who worked for my dad in the late 50’s at a paper company in upstate New York. The story was about how my dad and I came upon a large snapping turtle while we were largemouth bass fishing in Fish Creek near Saratoga Springs and how my father instructed me to lasso this beast, bring it back to the house, whereupon he painted his buddies name on the shell, then had me release the turtle a few days later in the same scummy water we found it, only to “discover” it a year later when he surreptitiously took that same friend to the creek in hopes of finding the monogrammed beast. Johnny Haren practically fell out of the boat when he saw his name emblazoned on the turtle's back. To say my father was a practical joker would be an understatement.
Prior to moving to New York, we lived in a suburb of Akron, Ohio. At the time I was about seven years old and my father was an aspiring young executive. My parents would frequently host neighborhood parties where I’m told the liquor flowed on the heavy-ish side, and for the formal parties the men wore suits and their wives or dates wore cocktail dresses. In preparation for one of those parties my father removed a couple of rather elegant martini glasses from the china cabinet and took them to a jeweler and had the jeweler drill a very small hole just below the rim of each glass (I still have one of those glasses!). At one of the parties, as the evening progressed and the guests became increasingly inebriated, my father would single-out one of the ladies whose husband or date, as the case may be, would go along with the gag. The ideal target was a gal wearing a fairly open-topped dress and who was “well on her way”. Dad would slide into the conversation, make note that her martini was nearly empty and offer to build her a fresh drink. Into the kitchen my father would slither to mix a fresh martini in the altered glass and return to his guest making sure he handed her the glass with the small hole perfectly aligned so that when she sipped the martini, a small amount of the liquid would dribble onto her chin, and then onto her dress. Of course he was immediately at the ready with his handkerchief to assist her with mopping up. She would pardon herself for being sloppy and in short order take another sip, with the same result. Each time my father would take her glass so she could finish tidying up, and then replace the glass into her hand properly oriented for another trickle. When I replay this twisted gag in my mind’s eye, all I can think of is it would have been a perfect Benny Hill burlesque segment!
My father was a practical joker extraordinaire. So, you may be asking yourself where is this story going and does it have anything to do with fishing, after all this is the Skinny Water Charters newsletter, right? Please bear with me.
At several of the paper companies that my father worked for in the early years of his career, he was the operations manager and as such had responsibility for production, profitability, quality, human resources, and worker safety. I can recall when I was a little kid, oftentimes he would bring me to the plant on a Saturday morning and I would accompany him on production floor walk-throughs . He would inspect the machines to make sure they were operating correctly, he’d examine the paperboard or folding cartons to make sure the colors were right and the folds exact. He would always shake the hands of the machine operators and tell them they were doing a good job and he would make sure they were wearing their safety glasses. Whenever he spotted an operator who was not wearing his safety glasses, he would turn away and pull from his pocket a glass prosthetic eye and screw it into his eye and squint to hold it in place, come up behind the operator and tap him on the shoulder and give him the Marty Feldman (https://youtu.be/nxxSIX3fmmo) freaky eye look. The operator would look in horror and my father would proceed to give the guy a lecture on the importance of wearing his safety glasses to avoid a catastrophic injury. My father always carried that glass eye on those plant tours and many years later, gave it to me along with a bunch of other weird stuff, including the martini glasses.
So, fast backwards a bunch of years to sometime in the late 1980’s. I’ve been invited on a fly fishing trip to a remote lodge in the Quebec wilderness with a good friend and four other guys I knew pretty well as we had all fished together a bunch of times in the Cape Cod trout ponds. Like me, these guys were hard-core fly fishers, loved a good time, were free spirits, loved being in the woods and on boats and a enjoyed a good joke, and for the most part could handle themselves should ever a problem arise… perfect companions for a week of fly fishing at a very remote fly-in lodge on Lac De La Robe Noire. We leased a huge van that with careful packing could carry all of us, our fishing equipment and baggage. The driving portion of the trip was a herculean seventeen hour, one thousand mile push to get to the float plane base at Havre-Sainte-Pierre, Quebec.
The flight into the lodge was via a de Havilland Beaver, the preferred aircraft of bush pilots servicing remote locations in the Canadian north. With a short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability, this beast powered by a Pratt & Whitney radial engine had a cruising speed of 140 mph with a useful payload of 2,100 lbs. and in our case, two 55 gallon drums of gasoline for the lodge’s generator and outboard motors (as far as I was concerned we were a flying bomb). I could see it, on the front page of Le Journal de Quebec…
“Fishing Vacation Turns Tragic…a Bush pilot of a 1950’s era de Haviland Beaver aircraft experienced engine problems on a flight into a remote fishing lodge in Northern Quebec. Despite being able to safely land in a small clearing, a spark ignited 416 liters of 89 octane.”
The Beaver is the perfect platform for flying into wilderness lakes, most of which are quite small and teeming with native brook trout, our target species. The flight in was quick and uneventful and because we were at a fairly low level we were able to get a good look at the numerous lakes and rivers and the absolute wilderness below, but the plane vibrated considerably, was noisy and a bit unsettling. In those days, navigation did not include the luxury of Ground Positioning Satellites (GPS), but was a matter of setting a compass course to the target lake, adjusting for wind direction and speed, and the whole time basically dead reckoning via a network of familiar lakes and hills from having taken innumerable trips into the lodge.
We landed without incident and proceeded to have a wonderful week of brook trout catching, spectacular boat rides to fertile waters, great food by the very capable camp chefs, lots of cocktails, sound sleeps, numerous stories and laughter, while nearly contracting blood poisoning from untold bottles of DEET required to keep from getting eaten alive by black flies In the evenings following dinner when we really got to laughing and carrying on with the camp staff joining in (most who couldn’t speak much English), I would look away from the group and insert my father’s glass eye which I brought along for the trip. No one ever got tired of dumb glass eye antics and lousy jokes (some of which were only humorous when I resorted to the Marty Feldman goofy eye look).
After five days of fishing, the morning came for our planned departure, however the weather had turned rainy with a low cloud ceiling accompanied by a very heavy fog. The camp manager broke the news that he had received word via radio from the float plane base that we would have to stay another night, that with essentially no visibility conditions were too dangerous to fly. The following morning the fog had mostly lifted with breaks in the low clouds, enough so that we would be able to leave. The Beaver arrived a bit late due to having to navigate around cloud cover, but we were able to load our gear and bid adieu to our new friends, and our little piece of perfect wilderness… or so we thought.
I sat in the co-pilot’s seat enjoying the ride from an entirely different perspective, and following about thirty miles into the flight, watched the dry windshield become wet and the clear sky ahead, turn to fog. The pilot adjusted the controls and lowered our elevation clearing the heaviest of the fog. He reached behind my seat for a topographical map that he used to attempt pinpointing our location. He banked the plane to the left- looked out his open window to the area below, then turned to the right, each time simultaneously studing the map. Without my asking, it became apparent he was looking for a lake on which to land. In broken English he announced to the guys what was already obvious to me, we had an unscheduled landing coming up with no word of how long we’d be delayed. (I was already wondering if he stowed any sleeping bags and food- this could be an overnight stay or perhaps even longer.)
In fairly short order he spotted a lake where we could possibly land. He made a few more turns to confirm wind direction and speed, cross referenced his topo map, dropped elevation again, radioed our location and plan to the float plane base, and took a final low level look at the stretch of water that was to be our runway to make sure there were no rocks, floating logs, or sand bars in the way. There was only one cabin on the lake with a short dock that was to be our “terminal”. I asked him if he knew anything about the cabin and with a raised eyebrow and a smirk he said he had no clue. We lined up and barely cleared the trees at one end of the lake. The pilot pushed in the steering yoke and set the plane down for what was a smooth landing, losing speed way before the advancing shoreline. In short order he taxied over to the dilapidated dock that was in front of the cabin we had seen from the air.
Following his instruction, a couple of us jumped out of the plane and tied the Beaver to the dock as the pilot shut down the engine and made a final call to the float plane base confirming a safe landing, our location and requesting he be kept informed when the weather looked to be clearing. He directed us to go up to the cabin to see if there was any sign of life. I found the cabin door unlocked, took a quick peek around and noted a few cigarette butts and wet dirty dishes in the sink. As I returned to the front deck I could faintly hear in the distance what sounded like an outboard motor. Sure enough, in ten minutes a fishing boat with two anglers aboard was approaching the dock. I remarked to the guys that this was going to get interesting… a huge plane just landed on their lake, it’s now tied to their dock and there are six strangers standing on their cabin’s deck! The pilot helped the anglers secure their boat to what little room remained on the dock. These guys were clearly agitated as evidenced by their hand and arm movements and elevated voices, which of course suggested we might be in store for a confrontation. None of us spoke French so we had no idea how the pilot was positioning the situation, but after a few tense minutes it appeared that the anglers had settled down as they made their way to cabin. As they joined us on the deck they were smiling and began to shake our hands and jibber-jabbered in a mix of French and rudimentary English. (trade is an amazing thing... the promise of a few beaver pelts, a wool blanket and beads settled down the natives.)
In short order Henri and Marcel invited us into their cabin, pulled up extra chairs surrounding their retro formica-top kitchen table, quickly distributed a collection of dissimilar coffee cups and pulled two bottles of Canadian Club whisky from the cupboard! I thought to myself, my how things have changed! I might add that our hosts were already half in the bag from what was probably a slow morning of fishing, but it appeared they were receptive to having temporary house guests and wanted to make us comfortable for what they probably hoped was a short stay. As the whisky flowed to and through all of us (with the exception of the pilot, thank god) so did the laughter and back slapping, with the pilot interpreting the two-way conversations as nimbly as he could.
The festivity continued as the levels of whisky in the bottles continued to drop. I thought to myself, although it was festive, there was an increasing kind of weirdness to the scene with some drama starting to unfold. Shortly my uneasiness manifested as things took a surreal turn. Our hosts were now downright shitfaced and their demeanor started to shift from being jovial, to becoming edgy and a bit combative. Henri fell off his chair and as he attempted to get up using the table as support, pulled onto the floor several coffee cups of whisky and an ashtray. Marcel got up and staggered to help his friend offering a hand and in so doing slipped on the puddle of booze also falling to the floor, and the two of them let out a rant of expletives that required no translation. The six of us and the pilot quickly glanced at one another, all of us thinking… now this is goddamned weird.
Our hosts got to their feet and with hysterical “hyena-type” laughter, and in concert with one another, began pulling coffee cups, silverware, dishes and saucers from the cupboards and drawers, and stumbling to the deck began throwing the kitchen contents into the woods. These guys had transitioned from happy hosts to dangerous drunks and it was immediately apparent to me we needed a plan “stat”, to manage what could become a dangerous situation. As our hosts were occupied on the front deck emptying the kitchen, I quickly devised a plan and made the rounds with my friends instructing them as follows…
If need be:
Jimmy – “if pandemonium breaks out your job is to protect the pilot and get him to the plane”
Ed – “you’re good with guns, grab that double-barrel shotgun propped in the corner, make sure it’s empty and slide it under the couch”
Mike- “you and I we’ll take down Marcel���
Chris and Carl- “you guys take down
I can recall as if it were yesterday, looking out the door to the deck and watching our hosts throw their dinner plates and saucers into the woods as if they were Frisbees, many exploding on the tall pine tree trunks. On one hand it was hilarious, while at the same time I was concerned what might happen once they returned inside the cabin… but we were prepared should things have gotten ugly.
Marcel and Henri ran out of ammunition and came back into the cabin now looking to throw chairs off the deck! (Sure I can recall a certain level of frustration on bad fishing days, and rounds of golf where I was tempted to throw my rod into the drink or my clubs into the pond on #4, but plates, saucers, and chairs, from your cabin and in front of complete strangers!… we were indeed in uncharted territory.)
If it were to occur that our hosts would start pushing and swinging, we were prepared to launch our plan. If you were ever in a bar fight, and I’ve been in a few, you know how quickly things can go south- but so far, cooler heads were (barely) prevailing. During our time in their cabin I had studied both guys closely and had noticed that Henri had evidence of a broken nose that occurred sometime in his past- maybe he was a fighter or more likely, he fell down or drove his snowmobile into a tree, both guys had scarred knuckles and Marcel seemed to have a problem with looking at you straight.
So, as we were all on edge, standing up and looking at these guys, wondering what was next, I remembered that I had in my pocket my father’s prosthetic glass eye. (As I noted earlier I had used it several times during the week at our fishing lodge, and as always it got lots of laughs… and magically here it was in my jeans pocket- such luck!) I thought… man, if there was ever a time when we needed to lighten the mood… it was now!
I turned to the pilot and told him to tell Marcel, quote “Jim here is keeping an eye on you!”, and as the pilot with some hesitation did the translation, I turned away, pulled the glass eye from my pocket, quickly screwed it into my right eye and turned back and looked directly at Marcel, and gave him the Marty Feldman look.
For a moment you could have heard a pin drop and in the next breath Marcel
doubled over in laughter nearly dropping to the floor- (again), but this time from
laughter. Henri’s face lit up like a drunken
Canuck (he was) at a festive Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebration, and he likewise went into hysteria…and then began hugging Marcel (strange dudes these French Canadians). My friends and the
pilot likewise erupted in unrestrained laughter. It was a sight to behold.
As we were all catching our breath, Marcel, with a semi-sober demeanor, not unlike an experienced poker player holding a winning hand…“saw my bet and raised me one”, and proceeded to remove his glass eye! Holy Shit Batman, Marcel was now staring at me with one good eye and one white muscle! The cabin absolutely exploded- I mean exploded in laughter. We slapped each other’s backs, we did man hugs and high fives. (Did you ever hug a man with one good eye and one flesh eye…I have!)
After the craziness settled and Marcel reinserted his prosthetic eye and I returned mine to my jeans pocket, we seemed to all sober up for a minute, shake hands and wish one another well. We then went about helping our hosts clean up the cabin and salvage their dinnerware from the woods. In short order we heard the airplane radio crackle, and our pilot motioned to us to get a move on as the base station had radioed an "all clear " weather report. We bid adieu to our new friends, thanked them for the respite and whisky party and climbed into the Beaver for the balance of our flight to the base. It was a bizarre but fitting end to a wonderful fly fishing trip to a great wilderness location, with good friends, old and new.
Largemouth in heavy cover
As a kid we always lived near water and my family would "maintain" a small fleet of leaky wooden boats complete with cantankerous small outboard engines that were always breaking down. I got pretty handy with a wrench and screwdriver just enough to keep them running most of the time, however a strong set of oars, a supply of shear pins, and a bailing can were oftentimes vital in returning home after a day or evening on the water. So, after scouting prime largemouth bass water as a "Navy Seal in training", I would return and catch those fish with my cheapo spinning rod and black plastic rubber worms and hula poppers. Summertime was dreamy for this country boy.
One of my first boats
My father was a businessman, an inventor of sorts, a family man for sure, and of course, a fisherman. He was a pattern maker in the Navy during WW2 and no doubt it was this experience that gave rise to him becoming one of the original MacGyver's, the products and processes he would come up with were amazing. He also had a very keen wit and was a big practical joker.
So the following story stars Jim Sr., Jim Jr. (me) and one of my dad's best friends, Johnny Haren. We lived in upstate New York, Schuylerville to be exact. My dad was the operations manager at a paper company in town and Johnny Haren was one of his production supervisors. Johnny was dad's best friend, also a Navy alum, a short guy, kinda pudgy, a bit nervous, quick witted and very talkative, mostly about stupid shit as I recall, and best of all, Johnny was a good fisherman. Anyway, they were quite the pair and when they could find the time, fished together and exaggerated about most everything fishy.
We lived in the country, half way between Schuylerville and Saratoga Springs and behind the house were open fields full of woodchucks and arrowheads. Fish Creek (how appropo) bordered these fields. It was a muddy creek full of walleyed pike, pickerel, bass, carp and a variety of panfish... and huge snapping turtles. I was about 10 years old at the time and while fishing from my rowboat (by myself) in a sheltered and shallow mucky cove, I encountered a snapping turtle that must have been damn near two feet across. I had hooked a small bass and the turtle chased it to the boat. Upon returning to the house I told my father the story. After a minute or so, he asked me if I thought I could find that turtle again, and I told him I thought I could.
"Let's go get that turtle... get a rope from the garage and the big net".
"Dad, there's no way that turtle will fit in the net, why don't we just leave it alone or maybe kill it, after all it's eating all the fish and probably the ducks too, besides it gives me the creeps!"
"Nope" he said, "we're going to catch it!"
"Catch it!... Dad the thing is huge, it bites, it hisses, it's covered in moss and it stinks!"
"Don't argue with me, go get the big net and a rope in the garage and throw them in the station wagon, and don't tell your mother anything... got it?"
"Yes sir", I said.
Holy shit, I thought to myself, I should have kept my mouth shut.
Dad drove the station wagon through the back yard, across the field to the dirt landing where the rowboat was tied up. "Let's go",he said, as he threw the net and rope into the boat and untied it from the tree , "you row!"
After ten minutes of rowing the boat and thinking to myself the whole time where this caper was going, we drifted into the cove where the turtle lived.
"Pole the boat with an oar to where you last saw that turtle", he directed me. In short order we saw some lily pads moving with the characteristic trail of bubbles coming from the bottom as the turtle was clawing its way through the muck trying to get away from us.
As I got closer to the lead bubbles my father rigged a noose with the rope and readied the net. "Get up on top of him and pin him to the bottom with the oar", he commanded.
This was about to get real serious, I was convinced my father really didn't appreciate how big this thing was! I was thoroughly confused, my heart raced, I gulped for air, WTF dad! (I thought). But he was all business, determined, kinda crazy. Is this gonna be a turtle soup venture?... no freakin' way I thought.
I pushed up on the turtle in about two feet of water, I attempted to pin it to the bottom but missed and hit it on the rear of it's massive shell. Up it came head first, mouth open and hissing. As the boat rocked Dad pushed the net over it's head and one of it's claws. It's jaws crunched into the aluminum net hoop, it's claw became instantly entangled, and now we were fast to this massive, strong, prehistoric and pissed off carnivorous predator.
"Here, you take the net, I'm gonna get a line on a rear claw", my father shouted. The thrashing turtle damn near pulled me out of the boat, while my father deftly lassoed a leg as if he were a cowboy roping a steer. We had him!... or he had us.
Now what? I thought.
Back to the landing I rowed, with turtle in tow as my father somehow managed to keep it from capsizing our fragile craft. "You take the rope, I'll take the head, and we'll load it into the wagon.
"Just do it!!"
The look on my mother's face was incredulous, if she had a gun~ dad would have been a gonner for sure as we proceeded to unload the turtle into the garage.
Dismissing my mother's protests, he ordered me to the shed to get a shovel and the push broom.
"Stop it, don't worry- we're not going to kill it", he said, "I'm gonna play a joke on Haren!"
Upon returning to the now stinking and muddy garage, I discovered that my father had the turtle tied spread-eagle fashion so that it could not move. With the shovel and push broom he cleared the moss, slime and leeches off the shell. "OK, now we're gonna leave this guy here till tomorrow when the shell should be dry", he said.
That night mom fixed dinner for just my brother and me, dad was on his own, which seemed cruel at the time but in retrospect, was probably appropriate. Things were a bit tense in the Barr household that night until my father was forced to share his plan with only my mother. She directed him to sleep in the breezeway that night, paying a slight penance for what she perceived as bordering on animal cruelty.
After returning from church the next morning my father told me to put on some old clothes and fetch a paint brush and a can of white refrigerator paint from his workshop.
"Just do it" he ordered, with a twisted smile. "I'm gonna fix Haren!"
The next day after the paint was sufficiently dry, we retraced the drive to the landing, whereupon I rowed the boat back to the cove with the turtle in tow. Dad cut the turtle free and away it swam into the murky deep.
About two weeks later, Dad invited Haren to go fishing with him in Fish Creek. He told Haren he knew of a cove that had some big largemouth bass in it. Haren was excited to try some new water. He was his typical self I was later told, yakkity yak, fidgety, a comment about everyone and everything at the shop...
Dad poled the rowboat deep into "Turtle Cove" as it became known in our family. He loved it when his plan came together, as it did that morning.
With his best friend in the bow, and the fish biting, on a warm summer Saturday morning, he poled the rowboat into the turtle's lair... alas the same moving lily pads with the trail of bubbles. There it was... Haren stared into the water in utter disbelief.
Dad related the story at our dinner table that night... I remember his words and his expressions as if it were yesterday. He said he had never once seen his friend absolutely speechless, without so much as a peep... white knuckles gripping his fishing rod as he nervously peered into the water and shook to his core.
Hook Set- Many fly anglers new to the salt environment utilize the same fish striking (hook set) they do when striking a trout taking a dry fly. This is an overhead, high rod tip motion with the butt of the rod somewhere between the angler's waist and shoulder. If you use this technique when striking a saltwater fish (Stripers, Bluefish, Bonito and False Albacore to name a few), you're going to miss a lot of fish. The proper technique in saltwater is to keep your rod tip low to the water during your retrieve, and even putting the tip under the water's surface is perfectly acceptable. The retrieve has the fly line loosely pinched between the the forefinger or middle finger (or both) of the rod-hand and the fly rod grip as the angler strips in line with the line-hand in a fashion that best imitates the swimming motion of the bait you are imitating. As the line is stripped over the fore-fingers of the rod hand the angler applies more pressure to the pinch point so that if the fish strikes the fly as the angler drops the line to pick it up again for the next strip- the line will stay tight helping to hook the fish. As the angler repeatedly strips line imitating the swimming motion of the bait, when the fish strikes the fly, the angler is in a position to "strip-strike" the fish keeping the rod tip low. The strip-strike has the angler pulling the line with force with the line-hand as he releases pressure at what was the pinch point on the rod-hand. The fly line will go tight immediately, and the rod will begin bouncing under the pressure and head-shaking action of the fish. Typically the hook is set in the fish's jaw, however it's perfectly acceptable to strip-strike the fish again with a good degree of force to "seat" the hook. The angler then raises the rod to play the fish.
Rod Positioning While Playing a Fish- After the angler has set the hook and is now playing the fish, care must be taken to land the fish. I see many anglers who engage in hand-to-hand combat, "fighting" the fish as if it's a 200 lb beast. It's unnecessary, and I typically coach new anglers engaged in this life and death struggle, to Relax. Yes, keep pressure on the fish, don't allow a slack line and when the fish wants to run, let it. If the fly reel drag is set properly it will do the work of applying pressure and slowing the fish's run. Typically there is no need (except for the macho photo shot) to rear-back and bend the fly rod in half as you play the fish. The drag and the spring action of the fly rod will do the lion's share of the work. When the fish slows and you can turn it, do so, but keep a tight line and if the fish makes a run back to the boat as Bonito and Albies typically do, reel like a mad person to maintain a tight line/contact with the fish. If the fish pulls to the right, apply pressure to the left, and vice-versa- this will tire the fish more quickly. It's also OK to the turn the fish from side to side to tire it. Remember, for toothy fish, each time you reverse direction the leader is being pulled across the fish's teeth. In the case of Bluefish particularly, a steel leader should prevent being cut off.
Never put your line hand on the rod blank above the fly rod grip to apply additional leverage. A fly rod is meant to flex deep into the handle and putting pressure on the fish with your hand positioned on the blank above the grip may very well cause the rod to break. Additionally, try not to bring the butt of the rod above your waist while fighting a heavy fish. A high rod position exerts significant pressure (bend) on the tip section of the fly rod which may result in breakage.
Go Barefoot in the Boat- If the weather/water is warm, going barefoot in the boat helps the angler to avoid stepping on their fly line. Footwear of any kind provides enough insulation to prevent you from being able to feel that you are stepping on your line. Many a cast has been ruined and a fish lost by a pinched line on deck. Bare feet can also present a slipping hazard on a wet deck, so you be the judge. Alternatively use a stripping basket to hold your fly line. Also, remember to stretch your fly line, preferably before you board the boat, and if that's not possible or you forget, strip the fly line off the reel into the wake of the boat as you relocate. Water pressure applied to the fly line will stretch the line and remove any twists and coils. If you do not cast in a relatively straight plane, but have a circular or "oval" rod rotation, this will add twists to your line causing it to kink.
Fluorocarbon or Monofilament Leaders- I have a couple of simple rules on this subject.
1. First, I don't spend stupid money on monofilament and fluorocarbon tippet material. For fluorocarbon I buy "Vanish" manufactured by Berkley. https://www.google.com/search?q=berkely+fishing+line&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#q=berkley+fishing+line&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=shop&spd=7371145439897742818. For monofilament I buy "Berkley Trilene Big Game" in Clear, https://www.google.com/search?q=berkely+trilene+monofilament&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#q=berkley+trilene+monofilament&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=shop&spd=5079983338702591652.
I buy spools of this quality line in different tests. For Fluorcarbon, typically 17 and 20 lb. for $13 (250 yards), and for Big Game, typically spools in 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 lb. test ($12 for 1/4 lb spools ). I tie my own tapered leaders thus the reason for buying multiple spools of different test. Ultraviolet rays combined with the effects of saltwater degrade these lines, so annually I throw out the leftover spools and buy fresh material.
2. When it comes to what lines to use. My simple rule is if I am using a floating fly line with a floating fly pattern because I want the fly to be on the surface or just below the surface, my leader and tippet system is made entirely of monofilament (nylon) line. On the other hand, if I am fishing deeper waters, particularly around cover such as heavy seaweed, ledge and boulders, the first four feet of my leader is 40lb monofilament, but the balance of the leader system is Fluorocarbon material. Fluorocarbon is nearly invisible under water and it is made of a heavier density copolymer... so it sinks. It's valued for its refractive index which is similar to that of water, making it less visible to fish. Mono floats/Fluro sinks- easy to remember.
Keep Boat Noise to a Minimum- Some years ago I was snorkeling in the Virgin Islands. I was submerged maybe ten feet swimming about the coral reefs checking out the sights. From several hundred yards away I could clearly hear the high pitched noise of the propeller of an approaching boat. As the powerboat throttled down the pitch changed but it was still remarkably loud. I then heard a series of bangs, thumps and then the beat of music. I surfaced and a hundred yards from me was a powerboat playing Reggae music and the skipper was making those banging noises as he deployed a couple of swim ladders.
On my boat I constantly remind my charter guests to try and keep noise to an absolute minimum. Don't let the hatches slam shut, don't throw their bags around or make noise putting down rods, no music, or excessively loud talking or "yee heeing". I know I must sound like a curmudgeon, but noise and vibration on a boat scares fish, particularly in skinny water environments. The fish and I don't want to hear the radio play-by-play of a Bruin's playoff hockey game on Ninigret Pond while fishing the worm hatch. True stories.
Fresh Water Bath for Flies- If you fish with fly patterns that are not tied on good quality stainless steel hooks, bring on-board a large plastic container (with a screw-on lid) of freshwater and when you change patterns drop the salty fly into the freshwater bath- and leave it there until the end of the trip. Those flies will last much longer if all salt deposits are washed off. You can also use the freshwater bath to dip your sun and street glasses in when they get doused with salt water.
Remember, when you are fishing from a boat, whether you are casting from the bow or from the stern or somewhere in between, in order to catch more fish, you are going to need to expand your casting skills so that you can present the fly to your "unfavored" side.
(See Diagram at the foot of the blog entries to better understand the explanation) For the right arm caster you are probably good at casting to positions to the left ranging from 11 o'clock through 9 to the 5 o'clock position because your forward and backcasts are traveling over your right shoulder and the line and fly are not threatening injury to anyone else on the boat (barring heavy wind). If you attempt to cast to any of the clock points from 12 to 3 to 6 with your casts going over your right shoulder as noted above, your line and fly are going to cross the boat and endanger the captain or other occupants of the boat and/or hang up on the center console, rod rack or antenna. Conversely if you are a lefty on the bow- you're good to go from about the 1 o'clock position to 3 to 5 o'clock positions, as the line is crossing over your left shoulder and out of harm's way. However when you want to cast to the 12 to 9 to 5 o'clock positions- you run into the same problem, the fly line is traveling over the boat and others on-board are ducking and putting on their flak vests and safety glasses!
If you are the angler in the stern, the right handed caster is safe in casting to the 1 to 3 to maybe the 5 o'clock positions, and the lefty is good for 7 to 9 to 11 for the most part. The diagram below helps explain the scenario of right and left handed casters whose skills are limited and who can only cast effectively to their favored side. In each diagram the black lines represent the rod and forward cast direction and the lighter colored (faint) broken lines represent the rod and line in the backcast. Remember, the fly line ALWAYS follows the path of the tip of the rod.
You have to extrapolate a bit to visualize the path of the fly rod and line in overhead casts (or slightly canted overhead casts) where the rod and line crosses near the caster's favored shoulder, to the light colored water areas. The light colored water (all non-red pie shaped water) represents the water these "One Dimensional Casters" are unable to reach without bringing the fly line over the boat into what I call the "danger zone".
There are two fundamental casts you need to learn, and 45 minutes with a certified fly casting instructor (or a good video tape and casting book) can help to get you on the road to catching more fish and hooking less ears by converting you from a One Dimensional Caster to a Multi- Dimensional Caster. These are the "Off Shoulder" and "Backhand" casts (these are hot linked to You Tube videos illustrating these casting techniques). The Off Shoulder video is very short but it effectively illustrates this cast that when combined with a double-haul, creates additional line speed enabling the caster to increase their distance.
For good measure if you can also learn to roll cast to your unfavored side using the Single Handed Off-Shoulder Roll Cast- wow, you've nearly achieved fly casting nirvana!