Summer feasts

I’ve spent a couple of days last week in Cyril’s beautiful house in Montrozier, in Rouergue, one of the very beautiful parts of “this best garden of the world, our fertile France“.

Cyril, of Mouching global fame, was to get married there on the 21th, in that rather impromptu fashion that he seems to like well, and I definitely love in most compartments of my life. Much had to be organized for the party to be a proper wedding, I had a blast transforming a centuries old barn into a banquet room, while meeting many great people and eating tons of meat and tons of cheese. I even had a couple of opportunities to get the Babe out of her sock and have a go at the Aveyron river’s chubs, just under the medieval bridge. They were willing to take a sz 14 ant.

montrozier1The party was a blast indeed. I wish Elizabeth and Cyril every bit of the good fortune they deserve. I love you both, you beaming crazy guys.

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[Casting log] Kids as trouts

A long ago I wrote about a casting game I played with the kids. They loved it so much that they took advantage of my taking up some serious lawn training to ask for more. But they are two years older, so they wanted it a little more interesting, so they invented new rules. Here’s for you a great way to mix your casting routine with your parental duties.

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Take your gnomes out for a picnic somewhere you can cast. Many city parks offer good options. It works best if you’ve got more than two littluns. I’ve got three, I think four would do also, more would probably result in chaos, which may also be good. Rig your favourite casting rod with something flashy and big on the business end of the line. Your goal is to catch the kids by touching them with the fly. When you touch a kid, (s)he should freeze. The other ones may free the prisonners by crawling between their legs and tapping once on their head. (Weird, I know, but they came up with that and it seemed to make plenty of sense to them, and judging by the bursts of laughter, they probably know what they’re doing). You score a point each time you manage to freeze all the kids. You’ll work accuracy on moving targets, line management, and speed, which makes it the perfect drill before a trip to the salt. It’s huge fun, and I think you should try it.

I’m off to Sarzeau, on the Golfe du Morbihan, for a Rodhouse seminar, basically a gathering of terminal-stage tackle geeks for 48h of silly talk, misdemeanor, putting livers to the test, fiddling with as much rods as possible, and possibly catching some good seabass in the process.

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I reckon there won’t be much happening, flywise… Let’s hope that two days of spinnning will not ruin my fly karma.

[Casting Log] PULD & wind.

Back on the lawn yesterday, there’s a lot going on castingwise these days, so I decided to start a casting log, if only to keep actual track of what I’m doing.

I’ll probably never really get past this distance mental illness that compells me, when I’ve got a fly rod in my hand, to try and see how far I can punch the line. I may resist, but sooner or later I’ll be zinging all out. Still, I’ve made some progress: in a 60mn session, I kept the madness well under 10′, which left me plenty of time for doing actual training.

I was back to basics, and doing Pick Up and Lay Downs, focussing on loop shape, accuracy, and changing directions. I was inspired to learn the PULD again by that great piece of teaching (and loosy piece of filming (man, get a tripod!)) by Peter Hayes:


What made things interesting was constant guts of wind, as I was using a 4wt. I like to train with a light line in the wind, because the wind is an unforgiving sonnovabitch. If you don’t get a good loop at good speed, your cast goes poopshaped. And not in a good way.

It’s also good for staying focussed on trajectory. Marc once said to me that every training cast should have a target, and daisies patches make for great rises. Aiming in the wind is a good drill, and most certainly something very useful when you fish. If you’ve got some space around you, just turning around to change the wind’s direction will put you in a whole new setting and keep things interesting. You’ll have to do backhand PULDs for instance.

After an hour or so, the kids came in and they had invented a new casting game which was great fun. More on that later.

Rudd test, the roll and the tail

Tuesday I got to see some water with actual fishs in it. It was cloudy, and rather windy with pretty decent gusts around 40kph. There were lots and lots of stuff growing on the banks of the pond, so the practical thing to do would have been to bring the 6wt.

But I’m not a practical man.

As you know, I’ve just built a tadpole. ‘So’, I thought, ‘today will be the day where it will become a proper rod’. Which means: where it will start to smell like fish. Casting a 5’10” 3wt glass rod among the bushes in the wind made up  for an interesting training session. It turns out it wasn’t as bad as I thought (even if sometimes it was just impossible to cope with the conditions, I had to resort to the old “light a smoke and let go” trick.) I lost flies to bushes, I tangled line, I filled a boot with water, but man, I fished, and I fished glass.

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And I caught a handful of those lil’ guys, which I love because they are really into surface feeding and they won’t give you more than the blink of an eye before spitting the fly, so you need to put your nerves on overdrive.

But let’s talk casting now, I’ll go back to the tadpole in a later post.

I realized something interesting, castingwise. In the whole session, I tailed exactly once. As you may know, I had a serious tailing loops habit, and I really struggled to understand where it came from. And now the tails were gone (or at least quite fewer), and that was a bit of a surprise. Especially because last year I did not train that much. So I wondered where the progress came from. And what I found is refreshingly odd: indoors roll casting. You see, the only serious training I did with a rod since a long time was roll casting in my flat with the MPR. I suck at roll casting, and it’s not an option, so I concentrated on it (plus, you’re less prone to domestic disasters when roll casting at hoome than when you cast overhead, unless you’ve got a really big home.) Anyway, a couple thousand casts later, I have made some progress on this front. Apart from what I could call (probably inadequately, but Marc will hopefully correct me) anchor management, my problem with roll cast was power application. So I concentrated on late rotation and smooth acceleration.

The problem when you carry line in the air is that all the components of the cast must be dealt with more or less simultaneously: timing, power, casting arc, stop, etc…. You can simplify things with the PULD, but it’s with the roll cast that you can really focus on power application. Especially indoors, since you don’t have to deal with current. So, here’s my casting tip of the day: roll casting is good for tails. And here’s some fantastic footage with Carl McNeil explaining the roll, how to do it and why it’s important.

Tadpole (2): Cut&Pasting blanks

This post will deal with two things I experimented on the tadpole: blank extension and spigot ferrule creation.

tadpole

So, you’ve heard everywhere about fiberglass, which is the next craze in our little fly world. Maybe you’re just a tackle freak, and you want to check it out because you’ve got to. Maybe you’re tired of putting a 7wt TT on your fast 5wt to ba able to use it (but you like fast, of course, who wants to like slow?) and you wonder if the ‘true glass feel’ will not give you a good story to tell to go back to something that matches your actual casting stroke. Maybe you just want to get a really short fly rod. Or you can’t afford much more, and you suspect you could get a nice rod for very little money.
Any of these reasons is valid, but the best ones to go the tadpole route are the need for a short rod that will tke some abuse, and the lack of funds. At 5′ and 13€ apiece, provided you’re not too fancy about the rest of the components, your ticket for the short glass world will not break the bank. Obviously, there’s very good opportunities on the second-hand market, but building your own rod is something else, and as the glass bug spreads prices tend to get a little out of hand.

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Classic glass. Will cost you an eye.

So. You’ve got a handful of coins and want to have fun with the ten inches chubs in the stream back there, without fearing to have a go at those fat three pounders you see sometimes. Let’s say you’d prefer it not too short (closer to 6′) and in two pieces for transport.
Come here, I’ll show you how you do that.

First get two Batson SPG 601 blanks. You’ll need the second as an organ donor. A couple of inexpensive burl cork rings (10 is good), a simple aluminium reel seat, six fly guides (five #1, a #2), a garden variety size 12 insert guide for the stripper, a 4.5 tip and you’re set. If you insist you can add a winding check and a hook keeper. I did not.

Stickers you probably won't use on a tadpole

Stickers you probably won’t use on a tadpole

Now, follow those steps:

  1. Sand gently blank #1 to remove the paint.
  2. Find and mark the spine on blank #2. Measure its inner diameter (ID) at the butt.
  3. Find the point on blank #1 with a matching outer diameter (OD). Mark the blank 3″ (7.5cm) above this point (ie towards the tip). Cut there, using a metal saw or a dremel, or maybe more refined techniques if you feel fancy. It’s better to put masking tape where you will cut, to avoid splints. Sand smooth the cut’s edges. The butt part of blank #1 is your extension.
  4. Test fit the extension into blank #2’s butt. The whole extended blank should measure approximately 5’10 (178cm). Mark on the extension where it goes out of blank #2. You will build the handle on the extension, and you don’t want it to go past the point where it enters into blank #2.
  5. Tape the ferrule (ie blank #2’s last inch) and put the whole extended blank under load. Observe the curve, and ask yourself where you want to put the spigot. It will create a hard spot, so you want to get it as low on the butt as you can, without sacrificing too much of the rod’s portability. I found that a 33″ butt, including the spigot, is a reasonable balance.

    Slight but noticeable hard spot

    Slight but noticeable hard spot

  6. Measure 40″ (101,6cm) from the tip on blank #2. Tape the blank, cut and smooth the edge on both parts.
  7. Measure the ID of blank #2’s tip. Find the point on blank #1 with a matching OD. Mark the blank 3″ (7.5cm) above this point. Cut there, and sand the edge. The part below the cut will be the spigot.
  8. Test fit the spigot into the tip of blank #2. Mark the point where the spigot goes out of the tip (call it A). Mark a point one inch below this point (call it B). This is where the spigot should go out of the blank’s butt. Mark a point 3″ below this point. Cut there, sand the edge. The piece of blank is your spigot. The one inch between A and B will show, and preserve a tight fit as the spigot wears down along the years.

    Mister spigot doing its job

    Mister spigot doing its job

  9. We now strengthen the spigot by double walling it. Insert the remaining tip of blank #1 into the spigot, and trim the excess. Epoxy the slim spigot into the larger one. Let cure for a couple of hours. You can even triple wall it if you’re into that sort of things.
  10. We need to shape the spigot so that it will sit exactly where it should into blank #2’s butt. Insert the spigot in the butt, and check where it comes out. Typically, the B point (from step 8) is not visible. Very slowly and carefully, sand all around the spigot’s lower part. Check often to see whether the B point is now visible. When B appears, stop sanding and epoxy the spigot into blank #2’s butt. Let cure.

    spigot1

    You can see there the marks on the spigot: emerging points from butt and from tip

  11. Meanwhile, you can epoxy your grip onto the extension. You may want to stop the grip right where the extension enters the blank. Or — as I did — you may want to let this point visible, to get a kind of ferruled look which I like a lot. This is pure cosmetics, it’s up to your tastes.grip5
  12. Once the grip is cured, epoxy the extension into blank #2’s butt. Make sure the reel seat is where you want it to be with respect to the butt’s spine. Let cure.
  13. You’re ready to wrap that thing and finish it.

Next time, the vented grip, guides specification and Common Cents.