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August 12, 2011 / flogginwater

A Great Day

Today was the relaxing day I’ve needed for a long time. It wasn’t perfect – perfect would’ve been me with my ass hanging down in the 70 degree water with a pair of kick fins on, cruising in my tube. I had to settle for man handling the canoe myself today. I *tried* to keep the float tube model of efficiency and pair down my gear, but as soon as I was set on taking the big boat – I threw in a bunch more gear I didn’t need, or use. The big box of crank baits – the tackle bag full of jig boxes and trout flies, and my little Grigg trout rod. I knew I wasn’t going to use this crap, but I guess it’s like a security blanket. I could’ve gone without it, and probably had better boat speed. Ohwell.

I also only used a single anchor on the boat, instead of the fore & aft anchors I normally use. Only took one paddle (that was ALMOST a mistake. Glad I was still over shallow water and semi-firm bottom when the paddle blade got stuck in the mud, and I lost my grip on it.)

I started off by rigging up the flyrod with one of my new bass fly experiments – a hybrid (cheater) fly – a 2.5″ Berkley Power Trout Worm cemented over kevlar thread, with a collar of rabbit fur ‘hackle’. I made pink/pink, pink/yellow, chartreuse/pink, and chartreuse/yellow combos. I started with pink/pink. Some of my other experiments were rabbit fur tails with cactus chenille bodies, rabbit & marabou and lead eyes (which were way too heavy, in hind sight. Could’ve gone with Large instead of XL eyes). I also tied up a couple nifty sliders and divers, but the top water bite never materialized tonight, so those were just casting practice.

I kept getting short strikes with the hybrid flies – and after a few missed strikes, the tail on my pink/pink fly was getting rather stubby, so I switched up to a pink/yellow and finally hooked a fish. It was not a bass. And given I was fishing a stout 8 weight rod, it wasn’t much of a fight.

But by god, it was a fish, on my new rod, and the first fish of the day. And the only fish caught on the fly rod today.

The poor perch was a goner, #4 Kahle hook impaled right through his brain (how the hell such a small fish ate such a big hook is beyond me). That’s okay though, they’re over populated in the lake, and it became seagull food.

I switched over to my bait casting setup not long after that one – after the tail on the pink/yellow got eaten clean off (had to be perch, not a bass). I rigged up with the lightest setup I dared – a 1/16th oz bullet weight with a 1/0 Mustad live-bait hook, and a 3″ red metalflake Senko worm – Wacky Rigged. I was hesitant, as that’s really light for my bait caster, but it worked, and worked well. Only bass of the day fell to this combo (after the damn perch ripped one of the senkos clean off the hook with their plucking).

I didn’t have a tape measure or scale with me, hence the pic of my feet w/ the fish. I’m putting this guy in the 16″ – 17″ ball park – my personal best bass for the year. He hit much like the perch were, taptaptap, but there was something just different enough, and when the hook point sunk, he went nuts, tried wrapping the line around the anchor, and did a good job of taking line from the reel – impressive since I had it cranked almost all the way down (this reel is spooled up with 50lb Tuff Line braid, and since I wasn’t using a mono leader, there was no point in setting it light).

Great fight from that fish – and she didn’t take long to recover before bolting away from the boat with a splash.

The follow up fish to that one was not nearly as impressive, another damn stunted yellow perch.

Again, how the hell can such a small fish eat such a big hook? That was a 1/0 – bigger than the #4 Kahle from the bass flies I was fishing.

I had a few more strikes, lost more senkos to weeds and fish (they really are not the most robust bait, but damned if they’re not deadly) and moved up into the creek arm, trying around the little island, before heading for the flooded brush where I landed another good bass last week. That whole field of timber shut me out today – not a worm, not a fly, nor a spinner bait or buzz bait (gotta try off the wall stunts when nothing else is working, right?) could bring any fish to hand.

It wasn’t until I got further up the creek that I even realized the lake was another foot lower this week – the creek channel was narrower, and a sand bar was exposed that wasn’t there last week. No fish to be seen up in the creek proper, but I got some photos of the place anyway.

I had a good paddle back toward the ramp, where I ran into another fly flinger who was bobbing about in his float tube. We struck up a conversation which lasted for a while, then he headed for the island to fish it. I hung out back where I caught the big bass, in hopes of hitting a good late afternoon early evening top water bite, which never materialized. As I was about to bag it, the fellow in teh tube hollered. He had a BIG fish break him off right after a hook set (he was tossing a bugger). I’m guessing it was a good sized bass, then again, the DFW does stock “brooder” trout (recycled steelhead and big hatchery beasts) in the lake, so maybe. I doubt it was a trout though – the surface water temp was easily in the 70’s, and with a few good hot days in a row, it can hit 80 degrees. The trout are hiding in deeper, cooler haunts right now.

On the way back, I did note a bobber hanging from a tree – someone had to work to get it way up there:

It was a good day out on the water, even if I didn’t get many fish. The trip home sucked more though – my jeep died again on the way home. Hazarding a guess, I’m thinking fuel pump, or my gas tank is really filled with crap and I plugged up the brand new fuel filter again. I had to be towed home.

When I got home, I was pleased to find out that my new rod blanks had arrived. I’m a bit perplexed with how to build these rods now – like any kid with an new toy, I had to take them out of the package and play with them. In this case, I spend half an hour while my wife was making dinner locating and marking the spine of each rod section, then double checking each marking to ensure it was right. Then I assemebled the blanks and wiggled them. I wasn’t overly thrilled with how either one felt with all 4 sections assembled. Don’t get me wrong here – I like moderate or slower action rods – but these blanks, when assembled to their full legnth, just feel a bit overly noodly. Far from “fast” action as one was advertised as.

Now here’s the kicker, when I pop the butt section of each rod off, they take on drastically different characteristics. When each blank is assembled as an 8’3″ rod – they feel great to wiggle, with nice moderate to moderate-fast actions. The “5 weight” blank doesn’t feel like there’s an ounce of 5 weight in it – either as an 11′ rod or an 8’3″ rod – it really feels more like a 3 or 4 weight rod. In comparison, the “3 weight” rod blank, when assembled as the 8 footer feels a lot more like a fast 5 weight or a 6 weight rod. The taper is a little odd on the so-called 3 weight too – it’s got a thicker tip than the #5 blank, and a slightly, ever so slightly thinner butt. The fully assembled 11 foot “3 weight” feels like it *could* be a 3, but probably more like a 4 or slow 5 weight.

And it gets even more fun – when I take just the top two tip sections of the “5 weight” blank – I could make a sweet little 5’4″ 2 piece rod that feels like it’d be perfect with a 2 or 3 weight line. The top two sections of the “3 weight” are stiffer, and would be good as a short 4 or 5 weight.

So now I’m torn – do I build either of these blanks as a full on 11′ rod, do I make a pair of 8’3″ rods, do I make one of them a mini-rod?

I am a bit disheartened that the so-called 5 weight is as soft as it is – I already got the grip and reel seat for that one.

A full wells grip and fighting butt, with a double locking reel seat would look a bit…odd on a 3 or 4 weight rod. And because I got the reel seat partly because it has that nifty blue cloud anodizing (and because it was only $19.99, vs $40 or 50 as I’ve seen them in the catalogs) that goes so well with the blue blank of the “5 weight” rod. The other blank is an forest green color – similar to what TFO and Pfleuger have used on their blanks. For that reason alone, I’m seriously tempted to just build up the “5 weight” as the full 11 foot rod, and build the other blank as an 8’3″ rod. Damn decisions.

And I’ve got a Diawa 706 coming to match up with one of these rods. $9.99 from eBay. Good price, decent reel, and it’s all the reel I’ll need for a 4, 5, or 6 weight rod. And I saved $90 from buying a Loomis Venture for one of them. Sweet.

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