Username:
Password:
Get Account    
Login
Home  |  Magazine  |  Reports  |  Discussion  |  Blogs  |  Photos  |  Tides  |  Weather  |  Community  |  Updates  |  Fishing Info  |  Contact

Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

Search This Blog

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

 

June 01, 2017

Compact Spinning & Fly-Fishing Kits for Travel ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

When researching compact spinning and fly-fishing kits for travel, I was looking for a complete kit that had a dedicated rod and reel for spin fishing as well as a dedicated rod and reel for fly-fishing—not one of those generic, dual-purpose rods that serve as a substitute for both angling methods. That just doesn't cut it. The L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit is the ticket. With compact case dimensions of only 21½-inches long x 8½-inches wide, x 3½-inches high, it is a perfect size for easy carry-on transport, backpacking, or to stow in your vehicle and have at the ready at a moment's notice. How many times have you driven by a promising body of water and said to yourself? Boy, I wish I had my spinning and/or fly-fishing equipment handy. Well, with the L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit, you can now have a pair of completely dedicated compact travel rods and reels on hand for fishing both sweet water and the suds.


L.L. Bean Compact Spin/Fly Kit

The L.L. Bean spinning outfit features a dedicated 4-piece, 6-foot medium/light-action rod that is well-matched to a series 1000 reel. The spool is preloaded with 110 yards of 6-pound test monofilament line—not 60 yards as specified in the description, which I immediately questioned. After carefully measuring then re-spooling, I thought perhaps the reel had been inadvertently spooled with 4-pound test line so as to account for the extra 50 yards of mono, which would happen to agree with their lb. test/yd. spool capacity description; [4/110, 5/100, 6/60 is printed on the skirted spool. I compared the diameter of the line to spools of both 4- and 6-pound test monofilament I had on hand and tactilely determined that it was 6-pound test mono. Granted, there is no universal standard referencing line diameter versus breaking test strength, and I was not about to hunt down a spring balance in order to test tensile stress. In any case, it's better to have more line than less. Later, referencing fly line and backing, we'll see that more line can become an issue. That aside for the moment, the spinning reel has a generous gear ratio of 5.2:1, 4 ball bearings, a smooth drag, and an anti-backlash system.

The fly outfit features a dedicated 6-piece, 8½-foot medium-action 5-weight rod that is nicely matched to their 5–6 weight Angler model #1 reel. Its good-size arbor is pre-spooled with 290 feet of backing, an 84-foot floating fly line (yellow), and a 9½-foot tapered leader. A fluent disc drag sports a large knob in order to easily apply the brakes.


4-Piece Spinning Rod ~ 6-Piece Fly Rod ~ Fly Box ~ Lure Box ~ Carrying Case

Additionally, the pair of rods and reels is protected within a functional vacuum-molded Cordura nylon fabric case with a clear-plastic zippered top. The case is lined with high-density polyurethane foam with cutouts shaped to firmly hold reels, rod sections, along with a pair of miniature lure and fly boxes. The plastic fly box (with slotted foam inserts), which can hold many flies, even contains a trio of easy-to-access fly-fishing hook threaders—great for changing flies in low-light and/or cold conditions. Beneath the boxes, I added packages of tapered leaders and tippet material. Last but not least, the case has a durable Cordura carrying handle.

After stripping out line, casting, and fighting a few fair-sized schoolie bass before finally calling it a day, I noted that the fly line was binding slightly—atop the spool, just beneath the reel seat—even after carefully rewinding the line back upon the spool. Why? The answer is that I wasn't reeling and laying the line precisely and firmly back-and-forth along the spool as when it was first machine spooled at the factory. When I returned home, I simply measured the backing, fly line, and leader so as to determine accurate specs. I then removed 100 feet from 290 feet of backing then retied it to the spool, leaving 190 feet, which is more than sufficient when coupled to 84 feet of fly line and a 9½-foot leader for a total of 283½ feet (94½ yards). In all my years of fly-fishing both salt and fresh water, I rarely went into the backing; when I did, it wasn't more than a few yards. So now, even if I fail to wind the line evenly upon the spool, I'm not going to have a binding issue unless I'm really careless. Also, if I later decide to whip finish a loop and add a weight-forward sinking section, or switch to a longer 100-foot fly line, I'm good to go. L.L. Bean is certainly being generous in giving you more than less rather than the other way around, so I can't fault them in that. In any event, always be sure to allow for enough clearance so as not to damage the fly line.

Referencing the spinning rod, you will note that it does not have a hook keeper. That, too, is an easy fix. As I do not like retaining the hook in the leg of a guide, let alone one of its eyes, or impaled in the rod's fine cork handle, I prefer to secure the hook in a neat little item called The CATCH, manufactured by Adams WW, Inc. I have them attached to virtually every rod I own (spin, bait, and fly) — even if the rod comes with its own hook keeper. You'll note that the fly rod does come with its own hook keeper, yet I still attached The CATCH's compact size hook keeper to the wand. The hook keeper's slotted magnetic shield solidly holds and prevents the point and barb of the hook from catching you, your clothing, vehicle, and boat seats—not to mention, perhaps, a pet. The CATCH hook keepers securely attaches to virtually any size blank diameter in seconds via an ozone and weather-resistant neoprene O-ring. The CATCH lightweight hook keepers are available in three sizes: The CATCH compact size (black, orange, blue), The CATCH-BIG (black), and the CATCH-MEGA (black). http://www.getthecatch.com


Bob B's Big Bull's-Eye Fly & The CATCH Hook Keeper

Over the years, I've field-tested other brand-name hook keepers. For conventional spin, bait, and fly-casting rods, you want the CATCH hook keepers. Pictured below for the purpose of comparison is Fuji's EZ Keeper attached to the L.L. Bean travel spinning rod. The EZ hook keeper attaches in the same fashion as The CATCH hook keepers by way of an O-ring. Though, with the lure's pair of treble hooks exposed, it doesn't really much matter that those points and barbs are unprotected—unlike the single protected point and barb of the fly depicted in The CATCH's magnetic shielded slot. The EZ Keeper serves to hold a lure or fly, not to protect. Also, the EZ Keeper is available but in a single size, whereas the trio of The CATCH compact keepers accommodate hooks from midge-size 22–1, The CATCH-BIG up to 4/0, and The CATCH-MEGA up to 9/0. However, Fuji's EZ Keeper does have its place as a Tenkara line-management system.


Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow & Fuji EZ Hook Keeper

I first reviewed The CATCH hook keepers in Nor'east Saltwater back in August of 2013. The piece is titled Hooked on Hook Keepers. Click on this link for the complete article: http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?b=35&a=4150.

Returning back to the pair of spin and fly-casting rods, both are finely wrapped and finished, boast genuine cork handles, 5 single-foot guides plus tip ~ 1 double-footed guide, 8 snake guides plus tip, respectively. The rods alone are worth the cost of the kit. And although the reels themselves are not of stellar quality—plastic components versus metal being the issue—you can always upgrade those items if and when the time comes while employing those same fine rods and suitably sufficient carrying case for many, many years. Our L.L. Bean compact combo travel kit will serve us at a moment's notice, always at the ready in our vehicle for unexpected, spontaneous adventure and action whenever our beefier equipment is back home taking up space.

In concluding Part 1, the fly reel is more than adequate, and the spinning reel stood up admirably against twenty-plus schoolie bass in a single outing. Moreover, the following day, I lost a nice-size striper (guesstimated at 30 inches) on the travel spinning rod as Donna was fumbling with the net right off the port stern. My point here is not to pick on Donna, but to make clear that the rod and reel easily handled a good-size fish in the suds, right up to the boat, the drag system having performed smoothly and flawlessly. As always, be sure to rinse your rod(s) and reel(s) with fresh water on return. Donna and I have both expensive and inexpensive equipment angling equipment that we have used, not abused, for decades. Take proper care of your equipment, and it will take care of you. Enough said.


L.L. Bean Travel Spinning Outfit ~ Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow ~ One of a Score of Schoolie Stripers Caught That Day in Our Compact Folding Porta-Bote (www.porta-bote.com.



Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats

April 02, 2017

A Deal of a Fly Rod & Reel ~ This is No Fly-By-Night

by Bob Banfelder

Part II

Before we continue on our Ithaca/Newfield journey, I'd like to introduce you to a deal of a fly rod and reel. Tom Gahan, Marketing Director for Eposeidon, whom you met in Part I, brought this KastKing product combo to my attention. At this stage of my life, I know a bargain when I see one.

The KastKing Katmai fly reel pictured below is currently available in four sizes: 3/4 (74 mm diameter), 5/6 (87 mm diameter), 7/8 (97 mm diameter), 9/10 (109 mm diameter). I recently selected the 7/8 size to do double duty in both fresh and salt water. Not too large a reel for some serious freshwater action; not too small a reel for most inshore saltwater species. As the reel is saltwater approved, there is no issue when hitting the suds. The super smooth waterproof center-disk drag is sealed with an O-ring to prevent water and sand intrusion.


KastKing Katmai 9 foot 4-piece #8-weight fly rod
KastKing Katmai 7/8 fly reel offered in black or gunmetal gray

The reel boasts solid stainless steel components and a lightweight yet super strong frame and spool composed of an anodized cold-forged aluminum alloy. With a 1.0:1 gear ratio, 2 saltwater rated ball bearings, and an instant-stop one-way anti-reverse clutch bearing, you are holding dependability in hand, knowing you can cast tirelessly then tackle the big boys when the bite is on. Although I am right handed, I set up all my fly reels for a left-handed retrieve as I do not like to change hands to reel in a fish. All reels are shipped from the company for righties; left-hand conversion can be done in literally a minute. It's a bit different than what I'm used to; that is, reversing a pawl-click mechanism. On the KastKing Katmai, you invert the anti-reverse bearing. It can be a bit tricky the first time out, so I suggest that you watch the You Tube video under Katmai Fly Reel Conversion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHA_u4B54So. Everything is easy once you know how.

I loaded the large arbor spool with backing and 82 feet of a slow-sinking fly line comprised of a 58-foot floating section, a 24-inch weight-forward tip, and a 9-foot tapered leader. To it, I tied a specially designed variation of the Muddler Minnow, heading out to a salty water column I had in mind. As of this writing (mid-March), it is still too early in the season to ply our local Long Island waters for bass and blues, but it was fun waving around the wand. It casts wonderfully. Aside from being a renowned deadly streamer fly in sweet waters for generations, the Muddler Minnow [pictured above] is magic in the suds, too.

The four-piece fast action 9-foot #8-weight KastKing Katmai carbon fiber rod [available in #4- #5- #8- #9-weight] is wrapped and wonderfully finished with stainless steel snake guides, tip, and K-foot ceramic inserts re the stripping guides; a quality full cork handle and fighting butt; and an aluminum double uplocking reel seat. The rod comes in a sectioned-off, heavy-duty protective tube made of Oxford 420D ballistic material with a 1¼-inch wide adjustable strap, serving as either a shoulder strap or tightened down for a carrying handle.


Carrying case for the four 28½-inch rod sections

I can't wait to put my new KastKing Katmai fly rod and reel through the rigors of both a freshwater and saltwater environment this season. If this fly-fishing outfit is as fine as the other KastKing spin-fishing equipment that I've field-tested and reviewed in Nor'east Saltwater through the years, Eposeidon has another winner on their hands with their KastKing Katmai fly rod and reel combination. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) soon recognize KastKing Katami fly reels/rods as "Best in Show" award winners. For when you pair quality with affordability, you can't help but be a winner. You'd be hard-pressed to find this kind of quality and value in a #7/8-weight combo outfit—rod, reel, and case—for under $130 dollars. Katami is named after the Katami National Park in Alaska.

Exploring Additional Areas in the Ithaca/Newfield Region

A suggestion when fishing freshwater pools for a variety of fish is to fish below a barrier falls. The Ithaca area has over 150 falls; some big, some small. Many provide excellent angling. Others offer spectacular views. Buttermilk Falls falls within the scenic category, whereas Ithaca Falls and its tributaries offer superb fishing opportunities—generally a spring and fall affair. Buttermilk Falls is a must for hikers in that its trails range from 1.7 miles to a more strenuous climb of 4.7 miles.


Buttermilk Falls ~ author taking a hike ~ not the plunge


A pool along Buttermilk Falls trail

On the southwest side of Cayuga Lake is Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg. Campsites and cabins overlook Cayuga Lake. For April 2017, the Department of Environmental Conservation stocks the lake with 16,500 brown trout ranging between 8½–9½ inches. In addition to brown trout, the DEC stocks lake trout. For those who do not have access to a boat, the State Park shoreline is hot spot, providing year-round sport. A short cast from shoreline puts you into 50–60 feet of water, which holds many species of fish. In addition to brown trout and lake trout, anglers can catch rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, bass, and panfish, to name bit a few. The park is located 8 miles north of Ithaca, along Route 89.


Taughannock Falls ~ plunging 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge.

Another 10 miles north of Taughannock Falls is Lucifer Falls, located in Robert H. Treman State Park. Shoreline fishing is permitted along Enfield Creek and its tributaries.

Salmon Creek and the Inlet. There are 1.1 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) along Salmon Creek, with three official PFR parking areas. Anglers can also use unofficial pull offs along the stream.

Not everyone within our circle of friends is a fishing fool. Some folks simply enjoy hiking in the great outdoors and/or capturing spectacular scenery with camera in hand. Lee Hanwick is a retired music teacher, camera buff, and our next-door neighbor and friend.


Lee Hanwick hiking along Buttermilk Falls

At this juncture, I'm sure you realize that there is something for most everyone in the Ithaca and Newfield areas—especially great fishing and hunting opportunities. It all begins by perusing the Department of Environmental Conservation information mentioned throughout this two-part article. Additionally, a good suggestion would be to join a sportsmen's club. Though Donna and I will only be visiting the area four times a year (spring, summer, fall, winter), it pays to become a member of a club. Fees are nominal and well worth the effort. The knowledge that you will glean over a period of time will prove priceless. We recently joined the Trumansburg Fish and Game Club. It's but a stone's throw from some of the areas we've been fishing and that I'll be hunting. Donna will be shooting the camera. As Donna and I enter our golden years, we don't just travel about—we explore the great outdoors.

For my bucket list, I have a couple of fishing activities planned; namely, bowfishing and ice fishing. I recently purchased a spin-cast type of bowfishing reel for one of my old Stemmler compound bows that was just collecting dust. I already have some articles in mind for future publications. Many of us outdoor folks divide our time between two mistresses [fishing and hunting]. I'll be hunting for fish, mainly carp on Long Island, along with other species on Cayuga Lake. For coverage of many fine angling products and informative articles, please check out my website at www.robertbanfelder.com under Publications [top right-hand box] and peruse those articles that I've written for Nor'east Saltwater over the years. You can do so—free of charge—by going into Nor'east's archives under the ‘Magazine and Blog' links at the top of the home page. The Blog link will direct you to my blog postings; the Magazine link will lead you to Nor'east's magazine issues, which may be read on your desktop, laptop, mobile, or tablet. Scrolling down to the bottom of the page you will see the link to older issues, where the magazine archive continues.

To conclude, I'll now return to home base ~ Long Island, New York. You may or may not know that the Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale—after its demise, covering a span of eight years—is finally getting back on track. The folks who fought for and worked indefatigably to bring back Connetquot's once world-class trout fishery are to be congratulated . . . profusely. Too many names to mention; however, one man has remained a friend of ours for many years: Dr. Richard Steinberger, affectionately monikered "Doc," of Idle Hour Fly Fishers. Doc had thoroughly researched the fishery debacle from a scientific perspective, helping to pave the way for positive change. Yes, yet another fishing fool. God bless.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

January 02, 2017

Berkley's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

Moving up in size from where we left off yesterday, let's examine the SUPERLINE EWG 4/0 hook, which has a forged bend and an increased diameter for added strength, giving it the power required to pull fish out of weeds, reeds, and other thick vegetation. The hooks are offered in sizes 2/0–7/0. The 2/0 and 3/0 come six to a package; 4/0 and 5/0 come five to a package; 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

One of the two soft plastic crawdad-type representations shown below (left), rigged Texas style, is Berkley's scented 3½-inch Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait, nicknamed the Fight'n Bug. As many of us reading this piece are not presently in the southeast, in your mind, set aside the lure's crawdad creature feature, its regional color (Alabama Craw), as well as limiting the lure solely to freshwater applications. Instead, consider this killer bait for the suds. Here on the East End of Long Island, Donna and I have caught and released more than our fair share of blues and striped bass with this crawdad color imitation as we have with, perhaps, the more suitable northeast purplish colors (right), which I'll cover momentarily. I believe it's not so much a matter of color or menu choice as it is purely an appetite decision, for food is food for thought for the fish. Hunger is probably the cognitive conception coupled to Berkley's scented attractions.


Left ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait ‘Fight'n Bug' & Superline Ewg 4/0 hook
Right ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Bama Bug purple color PowerBait ‘Change Up' & Heavy Cover 4/0 hook

The only thing I do differently referencing the Texas-style rigging is to push the point of the hook ¼ inch into the nose of the larger soft plastic baits instead of 1/8 inch on smaller soft plastic worms. Otherwise, the procedure remains the same. Also, I do not worry about concealing the eye of the hook. I do, however, concern myself with making the lure weedless by skin-hooking it as described yesterday in Part 1.

Shown above on the right side of photo and rigged Texas style is Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Bama Bug purple color, monikered the ‘Change Up' by designer Scott Suggs. The soft plastic lure is impaled with Berkley's HEAVY COVER 4/0 hook, built for flipping. Half of the top section of the hook shank is constructed with a stainless steel bait-keeper wire wrapped within a tight-gripping material in order to reduce slippage and prevent readjusting. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–6/0). All four sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.

For getting down into the water column, Berkley's weighted hooks, such as the Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG and Weighted Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock, are the key to nailing those denizens of the deep. Donna and I use them on our swimbaits rigged Texas style. We have had excellent success with Berkley's specifically formulated PowerBaits for Saltwater; namely, Berkley's 5-inch Jerkshad in a Pearl/Watermelon color. That's when we switch from spinning outfits to our low-profile bait casting reels and rods. The knack to working the lure(s) is to slowly . . . s.l.o.w.l.y retrieve your swimbait, which imparts maximum tail action, which in turn produces some serious strikes.

Berkley's Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG hooks (Environmental Working Group) are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. The size is imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The weighted 4/0 shown below is approximately 3/16 of an ounce. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.


Left top and bottom: 6-inch Boss Dog with Weighted Swimbait 5/0 and screwlock
Right top and bottom: 5-inch Jerkshad with Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG without screwlock


The Weighted Swimbait 5/0 hook and screwlock are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0 and also has the hook size imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The spiral bait keeper makes for fast and secure rigging of plastics. These leaded hooks will take your swimbaits down deep to the lunkers. The weighted 5/0 is approximately 1/3 of an ounce. All sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package. Both Donna and I have had very good results using Berkley's HAVOC 6-inch Black-Red Fleck/Chartreuse color plastics, dubbed the Boss Dog, designed by Gary Klein.

As some folks make the mistake of pushing the body of the plastic lure over the weighted belly of the hook (thereby compromising it), let's take a moment to address the proper way to rig such a weighted hook (with or without the screwlock) Texas style. First, push the point of the hook approximately ¼ inch (for larger lures) into the nose of the lure as you normally would, exiting the bottom of its body. Now, carefully back it out, completely removing it. You have just created a channel. Next, insert both the eye and angled neck of the hook into that bottom channel, rotating and aligning the body vertically at the center of the bend in the hook. You'll recall earlier that to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the lure so as to keep it perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the lure to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the swimbait to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the lure. Next, in order to make the swimbait weedless, stretch forward the section of body below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured. Leave the eye of the hook exposed for tying your fluorocarbon leader. No need to conceal the eye as you had the worm lure. Good to go.

The Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock (unweighted) is shown below. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Although the suggested hook for Berkley's 4½-inch Blue Shiner Gold color PowerBait, named the Rib Shad, is a Swimbait Jighead, I employ the unweighted 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock. I didn't listen too well in school either. :o) :o) You'll note that I rig the Rib Shad with the screwlock secured in its nose and the hook through the lure's body and out the top. However, you'll also note that because of the hook's configuration that the barb and point do not lay flat atop the lure (Texas style) and that its body is positioned directly between the bend of the hook, creating a sail-like, keel-like combo. That is precisely the form and figure I desire. The hook's smoke-satin finish will not spook fish as might a typical shiny stainless steel sail-like, keel-like display. Also, by not skin-hooking this rather thick-bodied shad imitator, you will be more assured of solid hookups.

The tail-thumping, paddle action of this killer bait triggers hard-hitting reactions. If you wish to go deeper into the water column, simply rig this imposter on a weighted Swimbait 5/0, similar to that when rigging for the 6-inch HAVOC Boss Dog explained earlier.


Berkley's 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock & Rib Shad PowerBait

Visit Berkley at http://www.berkley.com for a full description of their entire line of Fusion19 hooks and soft plastics. The hooks and lures are winners—not only in terms of producing solid hookups, but in terms of pricing. You'll thank me later.

Also, you can secure the recipe for Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly that appeared in the April 7, 2009 Nor'east Saltwater magazine issue (page 54 ~ illustrating prismatic Mylar eyes) by copying and pasting the issue's following URL in your Google address search box: http://files1.allcoastmedia.com/magazineissues/pdf/Noreast2004_0385126.PDF.


Bob
B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly ~ updated 2016 photo with molded 3-D eyes.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats





January 01, 2017

Berkely's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

First off, Donna and I wish everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Donna and I have been field-testing nine of Berkley's Fusion19™ smoke-satin-color hooks for the past year, along with several of the company's soft plastic (silicone) baits. They are absolutely awesome. Berkley's Fusion19 hooks is a trademark as is their revolutionary, technologically-advanced polymer coating designated as SlickSet; hence, Fusion19™ hooks and SlickSet™. What Berkley did was to fuse the SlickSet coating to their high-carbon steel hooks. The result: effortless hook-sets. The hooks' tips are tack-driving, needle-point sharp and easily penetrate a fish's cartilage as well as the flesh of your finger if you are not careful. The hooks are engineered to be the sharpest and slickest on the market. They were new for 2015.

The hooks are freshwater "bass-specific designs," says the company. However, Donna and I use them for virtually all saltwater applications as well as sweetwater situations. Together, you and I will be examining these perfected hooks closely. In the suds, both Donna and I have taken stripers, bluefish, weakfish, porgies, blowfish, seabass, blackfish, and fluke. In freshwater, we had a blast landing brook, rainbow, and brown trout with a fly rod, especially after tying a few new flies on Berkley's size 1/0 Drop Shot Fusion19 hooks. Next, I went on to playing around with their Weedless Wide Gap size 1/0 for largemouth bass. Playtime was over. We began nailing one largemouth after the other, along with a few smallmouth bass. More on that momentarily.

Among Berkley's Fusion19 hooks are nine designs I'll cover today and tomorrow: Drop Shot 1/0; Weedless Wide Gap 1/0; Offset Worm 3/0; EWG (Environmental Working Group) 3/0; Superline EWG 4/0; Heavy Cover 4/0; Weighted Superline EWG 4/0; Weighted Swimbait with screwlock 5/0; and Swimbait with screwlock 5/0. As pictured below, the hooks are clamshell-packaged in their resealable plastic storage units for easy accessibility and safety's sake because, as already mentioned, these hooks are extremely sharp. Depending on size, the hooks come in quantities ranging from four to seven hooks per package.


Resealable Clamshell Packaging


Let's begin with Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 and the Weedless Wide Gap 1/0. These hooks have become a favorite of mine for tying a streamer fly that I created back in early 2008, aptly named Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly. It is a unique fly pattern in that the eye of the fly essentially is the fly. Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 hook and their Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 (with its fluorocarbon weed guard) lend themselves well to this pattern because the eye of the fly fits neatly into the hook's semi-circular frame.

Apart from the hook's intended purpose as a drop-shot rig for live or artificial bait such a plastic worms, I find the Drop Shot 1/0 very useful for tying both saltwater and freshwater dry flies, too. With the aid of buoyant materials such as deer hair spun around the shank of the hook, its short shank and slightly raised eyelet assist in keeping the pattern resting flat atop the water column; hence, making the hook quite suitable for many dry fly applications. The hooks come seven to a package and are offered in sizes #6, #4, #2, #1, 1/0 and 2/0 ~ $3.99 per package.

Referencing the somewhat larger Weedless Wide Gap 1/0, you can work a fly where others dare not swim; namely, weeds and other thickly vegetated areas. Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly, serving as a wet fly, is a great all-around pattern, for you can fish it in both fresh water and salt water. In our northeast waters, Donna and I have taken panfish to pelagics. Initially, I tied the fly with flat (tape-type) prismatic Mylar eyes before experimenting with 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes and larger heads to push water. Too, I played and plied our rivers and bays with a yellow/green color pattern. The Weedless Wide Gap hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0. All but the 3/0 come five hooks to a package. The 3/0 comes four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.


Top: left to right ~ Drop-Shot 1/0 & Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 hooks
Center: left to right ~ Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Flies ~ exhibiting 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes ~ fly on left pushes water nicely
Bottom: experimenting of late with a yellow/green pattern.

All three patterns have been proven effective in either sweet water or the suds.

Moving on to larger size Berkley Fusion19 hooks. As a rule of thumb, I use a 3/0 hook for smaller baits, a 4/0 for medium size baits, and a 5/0 hook for larger baits. Let's examine the Offset Worm 3/0 and the EWG 3/0.

The Offset Worm hook 3/0 has a slightly narrower gap than the EWG 3/0. The hooks are offered in sizes 1/0–5/0. The 1/0 and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

The EWG 3/0 hook has a slightly wider gap than the above. The hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0–5/0. The #1, 1/0, and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Texas Style Rigging:

Both hook designs are ideal for rigging soft plastics, particularly worms. Let's rig Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Junebug color (monikered the ‘Money Maker') by designer Brandon Palaniuk. We'll rig the worm (along with some other soft plastics) Texas style.

First, push the point of either hook (Offset Worm 3/0 or EWG 3/0) into the nose of the worm, approximately 1/8th inch in and out the side. Slide and rotate the worm up the shank, past the hook's 90 degree angled neck, right up to the eye of the hook. This angle holds and keeps the worm from sliding down.

Next, a trick to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the worm so as to keep the worm perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the worm to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the worm to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the worm. Next, in order to make the lure weedless, stretch forward the section of worm below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured below. After tying your fluorocarbon leader to the hook, gently push the head of the worm over the eye of the hook, concealing the connection. Good to go.

I cast this lure with a light-action spinning reel and rod—no weight added to either lure or line of any sort. The worm's action in the water column is natural, so you will receive strikes and solid hookups.


Top to Bottom: one Offset Worm 3/0 hook and two EWG 3/0 hooks ~ HAVOC Junebug (color). Top two worms show hooks' exposed eyes, barbs, and points. Bottom worm—properly rigged weedless—conceals hook's eye, barb, and point. Berkley's Vanish fluorocarbon leader material, tied to the eye of the hook and hidden, offers a virtually invisible presentation.

Tomorrow, we'll continue with Part 2 of BERKLEY'S FUSION19 SUPER-SHARP HOOKS ~ FROM PANFISH to PELAGICS.

Once again, a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Stay tuned.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.




October 15, 2015

Fishing Shinnecock East County Park

by Bob Banfelder

On October 1st, I covered Cupsogue Beach County Park on Dune Road in Westhampton Beach. Several phone calls and e-mail replies from friends and acquaintances prompted me to continue writing about the six other Suffolk County Park beach access areas for those who purchase a Suffolk County Green Key card. Refer back to my October1st blog concerning general information referencing a Green Key card for residents, nonresidents, seniors, et cetera. For specific seasonal information regarding each of the seven Suffolk County beaches, it is best to call the park ahead of time. Shinnecock East County Park's phone number is (631) 852-8899. To get to the park, go east on Montauk Highway to Halsey Neck Lane. Make a right and continue to Dune Road. Make a right turn onto Dune Road and head west to the park entrance.

Donna and I have learned that regulations vary from county park to county park. A set of regulations at one park does not necessarily apply to another. For example, at Shinnecock East County Park, you are required to leave your Green Key card on the dashboard. However, at Cupsogue Beach County Park, it is not required. Also, rules and hours may change according to the season, so be sure to not only call but to carefully read posted signs on arrival as they apply to the activity you are considering. You'll note the ATTENTION sign below as instructions not only pertain to displaying your Green Key card but information referencing hours and night fishing (by permit) as well. Googling respective beach information is not always accurate, so be sure to check out those regulation signs upon entering the park, especially if the entrance booths are unmanned.



Flanking the eastern border of the Shinnecock Inlet where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, this rugged, undeveloped barrier beach park includes both ocean and bay beach recreation areas. Shinnecock East County Park in Southampton offers good fishing. One hundred campsites along the outer beach are available to those with self-contained campers and a valid Outer Beach Recreational Vehicle Permit; those vehicles must park on the beach. No tent camping is permitted. A small parking lot is available for Green Key card holders who do not have an Outer Beach Recreational Vehicle Permit. The walk from the parking lot to a midway point along the jetty is approximately 360 yards. This is where you'll find anglers lined all along those boulders, especially when the bite is on. Bait, spin, and fly fishermen abound. Bluefish, black fish, black sea bass, and stripers are the main attractions. "Ah, but you ‘should've been here yesterday' for the bonito and albies!" were the sincere sentiments sounded by angler after angler we spoke to whose only catch of the day was limited to skates and sea robins.







Navigating those boulders that form ocean jetties can be treacherous when wet. For warmer weather, a pair of cleated sandals as shown provides safety and comfort



For those colder months ahead, either boots offering interchangeable sole technology or overshoes with threaded or push-through carbide spikes (cleats) is a good choice. Whatever style you select, stay with a winner whose name has stood the test of time for fifty years: Korkers. As I already have pairs of general footwear for virtually all seasons and reasons, but not those jetties, a pair of cleated overshoes was a good choice for keeping me safe on those slippery, mossy surfaces. Referencing this arena, one has to decide among three Korkers' models; namely, CastTrax ($100), RockTrax ($70), or RockTrax Plus ($80). The main differences concern the threaded versus push-through carbide spikes; also, the number of spikes per pair. The RockTrax overshoe model has threaded spikes whereas the other two models have the push-through spikes. That is why you are paying more for the CastTrax model. However, the CastTrax model only has 18 spikes per sole, whereby the RockTrax Plus model has 26 spikes per sole. The lower price RockTrax model has14 spikes per sole, but it comes with 12 additional spikes and receptacles for you to customize the overshoe. Therefore, I elected to go with the RockTrax $70 model (which is on order) for its customization feature. To my way of thinking, fifty-two carbide spikes per pair translate to better traction on those slippery boulders. Yes, I'd be sacrificing threaded spikes in lieu of the push-through type, but the RockTrax model, unlike the RockTrax Plus model, allows for customizing the toes, heels, and balls of the soles.

All three models come with easy/off release buckles and strap system, extra strap, and spare spikes. The overshoes are constructed of rubber soles and wall surrounding the toe, heel, and sides for a secure fit. Check out Korkers online at www.korkers.com. Depending on the season, determine what type of footwear is best for you, sandal or overshoe, then get out there for some rock-solid fishing.



Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

September 20, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part IV of IV

by Bob Banfelder

Fine-Tuning Your Muddler Minnow

Obviously, a heavily dressed Muddler Minnow fly will prove more buoyant in the water column. Keep in mind that a Muddler Minnow is a streamer fly. Therefore, you want it swimming somewhere below the surface. I control depth, somewhat, by the shape of its head. A cone-shaped head will allow it to sink a bit then bob back up as you strip in line. A big rounded head will keep closer to the surface. In any event, you want the fly to push water so as to invite a strike. To reiterate, this is a proven deadly streamer fly. Rather than have one or two in your fly box, I'd suggest tying several in different sizes for different applications such as still waters, slow-moving water, or fast currents. Once you gain confidence in tying this fly, you will only be limited by your imagination in creating your own variation(s).

Fooling Fish in Sweet Water & the Suds

Here is a short list of freshwater fish that Donna and I have fooled with my raccoon overwing variation of the Muddler Minnow: trout (brook, rainbow, and brown), bluegills, crappie (both black and white), pumpkinseed, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, pickerel, and pike. I vary stripping speeds and pausing times, for nothing is written in stone. When one technique does not work, try another.

In the saltwater column, I have caught any number of fish that swim in our local Long Island waters—mainly bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and even fluke. I tie a larger variation of the classic Muddler Minnow, attributing its success to a bushier raccoon underwing. Again, a Mylar tinsel rib is optional. In lieu of Mylar tinsel ribbing material, I use several wraps of .035 lead wire solely to help weigh down the fly in the saltwater column. Simply tie and secure one end of a short length of wire directly in front of the raccoon underwing (see Part III step-3 recipe). Wrap the thread back to its forward position. Wrap the wire forward to meet the end of the thread and secure with a few half hitches. Cut the wire with a pair of wire snips (not your good scissors) and secure. Continue with step-4 in Part III. I generally use a long shank 3/0 or 4/0 O'Shaughnessy style stainless steel saltwater Mustad hook. A package of 25 3/0's will run approximately $10.


Saltwater Version of Muddler Minnow on 4/0 Hook

Raccoon Tails & Pelts

Buying traditionally tied quality Muddler Minnow flies from reputable companies can easily cost several dollars each because those flies are more involved to tie. Give yourself the added edge and tie my Muddler Minnow variation by using raccoon tail hair in lieu of squirrel hair for the underwing. This added step is the magic in the water column; ostensibly innocuous yet a powerful attractor. Tie a variety of sizes and save considerably. An assortment of effective freshwater and saltwater flies is not only tied with hair from raccoon tails but with furry zonker strips from their pelts. Quality raccoon tails run $3.50 on average. Raccoon zonker strips run about $7.00 for a narrow 14-inch length. Caliber raccoon pelts range between $16 and $20 dollars. You might find it interesting as to how I obtained my supply of raccoon material:

Donna and I had some pesky raccoons bordering our property, several actually residing under the back deck, creating nightly havoc ranging from ravaging vegetable and flower gardens to somehow getting into supposedly critter-proof cans of garbage. Those pesky critters became the bane of our existence. We went from pest control by employing a Have-a-Heart trap to the more serious pursuit of vermin elimination.

Out-of-the-box accuracy with a quality pellet air rifle was the ticket. Namely, a German made RWS Diana 34 T06 .22 caliber precision Classic. It was a wise choice. With open sights, shooting RWS Superpoint Extra Field-Line lead projectiles, I sent three 14.5 grain pointed pellets through virtually the same hole on paper at 35 yards! Although my group was as tight as a swollen tick, I needed to drop down and over to the right several inches in order to put lead through the very center of the black bull's-eye. Two fingertip adjustments of the elevation knob put the next shot parallel to the edge of the black center. A fingertip adjustment of the windage knob moved me into the black, but not its very center. A second adjustment put me dead center into the bull's-eye. Happy–happy. Now, was I lucky, or could I widen the same hole with two more pellets as I had done initially? I did. As a matter of fact, at first appearance, it seemed as though only two pellets found their mark. However, on careful examination, I could see that all three pellet holes embraced one another. Hence, those pesky creatures would not and did not suffer, for they were humanely dispatched.

This


R & R: Rifle & Raccoon Result

Plus This


Muddler Minnow on Sage #8 Weight Fly Rod & Pflueger Trion Reel

Equals Fish Like This


30-inch Striper


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

September 15, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part III of IV

by Bob Banfelder

At this juncture, you should be ready to proceed with tying the celebrated muddler minnow. If you missed Part I and II, go back to my blog posts published on August 1st and August 15th, 2015. Let's continue. For those new to pinch wrapping, flaring, and spinning deer hair, we'll simply employ a larger long shank 3/0 saltwater hook.

Procedure for Tying the Muddler Minnow:

1. Wax a one-foot length of thread from the spool of Danville's 4-strand rayon in order to keep the strands from separating. If you had selected either the 4-strand or Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon thread (another fine choice), let's begin. Starting fractionally forward of the middle of the hook shank, wrap the thread rearward to the bend of the hook then half hitch.

2. From the narrower sides of a pair of matched turkey quill feathers, cut approximately two ¼-inch wide by 1¼-inch long segments to form the Muddler Minnow's tail; dull sides facing each other (i.e., shiny sides facing outward), pointed ends aligned and facing downward. Tie in atop the bend of hook and half hitch to lock the tail in place.

Note: It is important that you do not wrap beyond this point, which I'll explain momentarily.

3. From the tail of the raccoon, cut a small bunch of both the light and dark hairs. Atop the hook shank, place and tie in this section in front of your last wrap (fine tips extended halfway toward the tail, butt ends facing forward) to form an underwing. Do not allow the clump to roll to one side or the other. The pinch-wrap will prevent this. Traditionally, squirrel hair is used. However, in lieu of squirrel, the blondish/blackish color mix of raccoon hair blends rather nicely. This underwing will aid in supporting and giving a nice profile to the topwings explained in the next step.



4. From the pair of turkey quill feathers, cut one segment from each wider side, making them slightly wider than the strips you made for the tail, approximately 3/8-inch. Place the two segments together, dull sides facing each other (i.e., shiny sides facing outward), pointed ends aligned and facing downward to form a pair of perfectly matched wings. Employing the pinch-wrap, tie in along both sides of the hook shank, right alongside the raccoon hair underwing. Half hitch to secure.



5. Atop the bare hook shank, cut a clump of deer hair approximately the diameter of a pencil; remove the underhairs with your thumb and forefinger. Employing the pinch-wrap, tie in the stack. The length of the bunch will depend on the size of the fly. You want the fine tips reaching at least the halfway point of the Muddler's wings. Atop the middle of the stack, loosely make one wrap and gently pull downward. You will see the deer hair begin to flare. Working the thread through the flared hair, make a second loop and, once again, pull down gently but with a bit more torque. The hair should flare even further. With a third loop around the flared hair, pull downward with a bit more torque while you slowly and carefully loosen your pinch-wrap. The deer hair should begin to spin easily around the hook shank. It is why I had you initially wind your thread just forward of the middle of the hook shank and not behind the eye of the hook. Otherwise, you would not have had the room for continued stacking. It is a common, cumbersome mistake many flytiers make when flaring and spinning deer hair. Push the section of clear flexible tubing over the eye of the hook and rearward in order to tightly pack the deer hair. Half hitch (over and off the end of the tubing) several times to secure the fibers. The tubing serves as a terrific tool.



6. Continuing stacking, wrapping, torquing, flaring, and spinning clumps of deer hair in the same fashion until you reach a point 1/8-inch behind the eye of the hook. Three or four clumps of deer hair should do nicely. Remove the tubing. Wrap the thread to the eye of the hook and tie off with a series of half hitches—either by hand or the whip finish tool.



6a.) You may leave this Muddler Minnow fly as is, or you may shape its head to your liking.



7. A pinpoint of Wet ‘n' Wild Crystalic Nail Color upon the thread directly behind the eye of the hook (top and bottom) gives a nice iridescent, buggy appearance.

Curved scissors and a double edge razor blade bent into the shape of a U, or broken in half lengthwise, make great grooming tools for forming round, conical, or bullet-shaped collars and heads. Whether you tie this Muddler Minnow streamer fly for fresh water on a –3 ex long shank number 6 hook, or a long shank 3/0 saltwater hook, you have a deadly imitation. Tie them as small as you can manage for sweet water, and as large as you dare for the suds. The important thing is that you fill your fly box so as to "match the hatch."



In my final Part IV piece, I'll discuss Fine Tuning your Muddler Minnow ~ Fooling Fish in Sweet Water & the Suds ~ Raccoon Tails & Pelts. So please stay tuned.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


August 15, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part II of IV

by Bob Banfelder

At this juncture, you should have on hand all of your materials and tools that we covered in Part I, published on August 1, 2015 of Nor'east Saltwater. Let's continue.

Threads


I think of thread as more of a tool than a material. It is your key to success for flaring and spinning deer hair around the shank of the hook. For both freshwater and saltwater applications, I recommend those new to flaring and spinning deer hair to start with a 10-yard spool of Danville's 4 strand rayon thread. I use all four strands for flies tied on hooks larger than a number 6. For smaller flies, you could split and separate one, two, or three strands, or simply use a size 3/0 thread from another manufacturer. Note that the standard numbering system of thread size does not pertain to Danville's Denier codes, so don't let it throw you. Olive thread, light olive, worm green, orange, red, black, and white are good color choices. You may want to familiarize yourself with threads from manufacturers such as Gudebrod, Griffith, and Uni. Stay away from threads made of Kevlar. Although Kevlar has undeniable strength, it will, in time, play havoc with your bobbin and scissors.

Also, an excellent all-purpose thread for both freshwater and saltwater applications is Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon. The beauty of this thread is that it can be worked flat, or it can be slightly twisted so as to pinch down when flaring and spinning deer hair. Some shops may suggest spools of size "A", lightly waxed and round-twisted Danville's Fly Master Plus, sold specifically for flaring and spinning deer hair. However, Danville's 210 Flat-Waxed Nylon does double duty, thereby eliminating the need to purchase other size threads. As a matter of fact, the two threads are approximately the same diameter.


Pinch-Wrapping for Practice

Practice this pinch-wrapping procedure, which will save you considerable frustration if you have never flared and spun deer hair. Knowing how to pinch-wrap is essential to properly placing materials on the hook and locking them in securely, be it atop the shank of the hook or off to either side. Similarly, pinch-wrapping is vital to locking, flaring, and spinning deer hair around the hook shank.

Let's first practice with a small bunch of deer hair slightly less than the diameter of a pencil.



Assuming that you are right-handed, a pinch-wrap begins when you employ the thumb and forefinger of your left hand to hold the material precisely where you want it before securing it in place. However, rather than simply wrapping the thread tightly around the stack, first make a small, loose wrap over and around the material, catching the thread between the pinch, creating tension before slowly torquing down upon the clump of deer hair, then over and back around again, each time catching the thread between thumb and forefinger so as to flare the material around the hook. Now, release the pinch, torque down, and allow the deer hair to spin completely around the shank of the hook. Work the thread through the hair, careful not to mash the hairs. Work the thread forward then push the entire bunch rearward with the tips of your right hand. Half hitch several times or whip finish to lock in place. Practice this step until you are proficient. I can assure you that this procedure will prove priceless. The amount of pressure required for the pinch-wrap, as well as the tension needed to torque down, flair, and spin the hairs, will become second nature to you with a bit of practice. It is this dexterity that is required in order to manipulate the material.


Confusion Personified



In selecting turkey feathers for the Muddler Minnow tail and wings, here is where a good deal of confusion lies. You will read recipes and view videos that call for a matching pair of turkey quills [one from a right wing of the bird and one from a left wing]; or you will read and view videos that instruct the tier to simply form the tail and wings from a single quill. Referencing the latter, the instructor may go on about cutting and perfectly matching components from the narrow side of the quill for the tail and the wider side for the wings. Words and phrases such as concave, convex, shiny side out, points aligned and facing downward, et cetera, might follow. And there you are trying to "match" these components perfectly, but you will not and cannot match them no matter how hard you try. Why? The answer is because you would need a matching pair of turkey quills [one from a right wing of the bird, and one from a left wing], as stated initially. However, you could wing it (pun intended) to form a pair of wings that will suffice but will not be perfectly matched. The choice is yours. You'll catch fish with either procedure, which we'll continue in Part III.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


August 01, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part I of IV

by Bob Banfelder

Fact: In the water column, for freshwater and saltwater applications, the fur from a raccoon has the lifelike action of marabou feathers and is a fantastic material for fly tying. The bonus feature is that raccoon fur is far stronger than marabou feathers. We will use raccoon fur (hair) for recipes in lieu of squirrel hair when tying the underwing of the traditional Muddler Minnow as well as the Marabou Muddler Minnow.

One of the deadliest flies in a streamer pattern for freshwater fishing is the popular Muddler Minnow. The fly was created by Don Gapen of Minnesota in 1937 and originated to imitate the small but big-headed spined sculpin. Therefore, to say that the Muddler Minnow has a long history is an understatement. This streamer pattern is doubtlessly found in most anglers' fly boxes in one form or another. However, I'd venture to say and even wager that they won't be found in notable numbers. And there is a very good reason for this. Actually, there are two explanations, for the flies are rather expensive to buy (especially when compared to simpler streamer patterns); also, Muddler Minnows can be somewhat difficult to tie, which brings me to an age-old adage: "Everything's easy once you know how."

What I have done over the course of years is to take the very best recipes and procedures for tying many variations of Don Gapen's original Muddler Minnow and incorporate them into a single, simplified whole. Well, simplified, that is, in the sense that I'll clearly point out the general confusion and then, together, we'll eliminate the problems that plague many flytiers when it comes to flaring, spinning, and shaping deer hair in order to form the overwing tips, collar, and head of this remarkable imitation.

First, let's consider the many possibilities in learning to work with deer hair in terms of the innumerable number of flies that this material can come to replicate. Stemming from the original model, which mimicked the sculpin, you can eventually learn to imitate a variety of aquatic and terrestrial forage. For example, stoneflies, leeches, crickets, grasshoppers, even mice. I say this with utmost confidence because once you learn the proper procedures for tying variations of the Muddler Minnow, you will be able to tie any number of the aforementioned deadly imitations. You are soon to learn several tricks of the trade for making fly tying (with that troublesome material) far easier and, therefore, more enjoyable.

The correct tools, materials, and procedures are most important for tying the Muddler Minnow as well as other flies that require the flaring, spinning, and shaping of deer hair. I'm sure you're anxious to begin tying the new variation of the Muddler Minnow. However, there is now a new program at Nor'east Saltwater where we writers will be limiting the length of our articles, writing shorter pieces over the course of the month or splitting up longer articles over a period of time. This new company policy is actually very good timing at this juncture because it gives you time to collect these needed materials.

Bob B's Variation of the Muddler Minnow
Freshwater Application


Materials:

Hook No. 6 Mustad-Sproat –3 ex. long shank, bronzed
Fly-Tying Wax Overton's Wonder Wax is an excellent choice
Thread Danville's 4 strand rayon, or Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon–color choice is yours
Pair of Matched Turkey Quills [one from a right wing and on from a left wing]; either mottled light or dark for tail and topwing
Mylar Tinsel rib (optional) not used in this recipe
Raccoon Tail for the underwing
Deer Hair Preferably from the belly section; natural color from the whitetail deer to form the overwing tips, collar, and head.

Note: mule-deer hair flares and spins more easily than whitetail deer hair because its western North American cousins' fibers are thicker; but not to worry. Whether you select deer hair from a bucktail or the belly of either species, we'll flare and spin the material most satisfactorily.

Wet ‘n' Wild Crystalic Nail Color for finishing the thread head–or another iridescent nail polish

Tools:

Straight Scissors
Curved Scissors
Double Edge Razor Blades
Clear 1/8-Inch Inside Diameter Flexible Tubing
2-inch length.



To be continued. Until next time, stay cool.



Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com



February 01, 2015

Not All Fly Lines Are Created Equal ~ Not By A Long Shot

by Bob Banfelder

Through the years I have tried many fly lines. Trial and error is one way to ascertain which fly line is best for you and—more specifically—your rod. However, that approach would be a counterproductive proposition because quality fly lines are costly. You cannot try before you buy one fly line after the other until you are satisfied. What are you left to do? You could of course, and you should, visit your local fly-fishing pro shop to inquire about a particular line that you have in mind or one that the proprietor recommends for a specific application. The problem here is that you will probably be handed a shopkeeper's fly line already spooled and dedicated to a particular reel suited to a specific rod solely for the purpose of demonstration, not necessarily the best fly line for the business at hand. Once again, what to do?

I wish I could tell you, precisely, what fly line for a particular rod would best suit your individual needs. The fact is I can't. Not without first knowing the answer to at least half a dozen questions. Otherwise, the right church, wrong pew type of scenario would likely prevail. The simple reason being is that line selection can be complicated in that there are a myriad of variables to consider, which tend to compound matters and therefore cloud reasoning.

Of course, there are certain guidelines to follow, and professional fly shop personnel will certainly steer you in the right direction. For example, your fly rod will indicate what weight line to use. The problem is that not all rods and lines are created equal. Then again, there are rules of thumb. "Go up two line weights; especially with that shooting head," you'll hear folks suggest. "That Redington rod can handle it." Huh! Is that well-meaning person aware that you're casting a looped component five-foot slow-sink mini-tip, a twelve-foot intermediate section, or perhaps a twenty- to thirty-foot integrated speed-cast shooting taper? Are the terms shooting heads, sinking shooting-heads, and traditional shooting or speed-cast tapers used interchangeably? Should they be? Do the grain weights of fly lines accurately correspond to their sink rates in inches per second? Is the timing and casting technique employed with lengthy sinking lines or speed-sink/floating lines the same as with conventional weight-forward floating lines? Should I even bother with level or double-taper fly lines in saltwater applications? The answers to those six questions are, respectively: probably not; quite often; no; no; no; and lastly (in my opinion), absolutely not.

Keep in mind a single truth, and you'll begin to understand the complexity of the above. There is no industry standard in matching the grain weight of fly lines to unilaterally correspond with its sink rate. Each manufacturer applies its own rating system—at best, placing a particular line within a category to cover a range of rod weights. For example, a Teeny TS-Series 450 sinking line has a sink rate of 8 ips (inches per second). That translates into the sinking portion of the line; in other words, the first 30 feet, weighing 450 grains, covering a range of rod weights from 9 through 12. Realize too, that it's the density (compactness) of that sinking section that dictates sink rate—not overall weight.

Can we somehow muddle through this mass of confounding information, bringing all this murky business of lengths and weights of line out into the light? Is it possible? It is, indeed, and we're going to deal with that in a moment. First, if you're new at this game, forget all about the vast variety of fly lines out there from which to choose. It's simply mind-boggling. For openers, focus on matching a weight-forward fly line to what the rod manufacturer states. Just focus. Do not buy anything just yet. Next, determine where in the water column you want to be. For example, are you fishing a streamer fly in shallow water? Fine. Consider a two- or three-foot leader attached to a weight-forward 8 floating line, abbreviated as WF-8-F, to match your 8-weight rod. Wish to fish several feet farther down in the water column? Great. Move up the scale to an intermediate sink-rate line, a fast sink-rate line, or an extra fast sink-rate line determined by inches per second. Select a name brand line such as Rio, Teeny, Orvis, Scientific Anglers, or Cortland.

Want to add distance as well as get down into the water column where the fish generally are? Fantastic. Assuming that you've had some fly-casting indoctrination and realize that shooting tapers (full sink or speed-sink/floating sinking lines) are executed differently than conventional weight-forward floating lines, let us move up the scale in terms of both line and rod weight to an intermediate Teeny Series T-400 24-foot sinking/58-foot floating section with a sink rate of 8 ips. You are now covered quite nicely for bass, blues, weakfish, false albacore, et cetera. Why the Teeny T-400? Three answers, basically. One: because the 10-weight is right in the middle of the recommended rating for rod weights of 8 through 12. Two: because I have worked with a T-300; that is, one down from the T-400—the T-300 still within the recommended 7- through 10- weight rods; a great line for a lighter 8- or 9-weight rod. Three: because I worked with a T-500—one up from the T-400—the T-500 still within the recommended 9- through 14-weight rods; a great line for a heavier 11- or 12-weight rod.

Unfortunately, experimentation between rod and line weight is the only way to personify precision. Joining a fly-fishing club, too, where you can ask questions is a good place to start. Clubs are an excellent way to glean information. Some clubs, prior to meetings, offer the opportunity to receive professional casting instruction—many times at no charge—from a certified casting instructor. Here, you have more of an opportunity to try before you buy.

With regard to shooting tapers, especially for beginners, why purchase Teeny fly lines over another brand—initially? Answer: In part, because Jim Teeny, president of Teeny Incorporated, is the innovator of integrating the floating section to the sinking portion of the line. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine the line's sweet spot; the perfect balancing point. There is no guesswork in determining when to shoot the line. When the second color extends approximately one foot past the rod tip, it's the magic moment. And when it comes to cutting the wind, which is the bane of many a saltwater fly-fisherman, shooting this type of line through a blow is simply a breeze. The lines mentioned above retail from $48 to $65. Check Teeny's Web site, www. jimteeny. com, for more information and great videos.

Although Teeny carries a wide assortment of fly lines—both single color and the two color system—for the beginner I'd suggest the two-color system for optimum casting results. Give yourself that added edge. I had purchased a couple of Teeny weight-forward 90-foot floating lines under their Supporting Project Healing Waters program: specifically a 5-weight and an 8-weight. The front section (sinking) is blue; the back section (floating) is gold. Those two lines are terrific. Also, I purchased a Teeny 60-foot First Cast 7 weight-forward floating fly line for Donna, along with a Teeny 90-foot 8 weight-forward floating fly line for moi. We use them both in fresh and saltwater. Fortunately, we have many fly rods with which to experiment. Again, trial and error are key factors. However, you can obtain near perfection by following the general rules of thumbs mentioned earlier.

A book on saltwater fly-fishing that I highly recommend is aptly titled Fly Fishing in Salt Water by Lefty Kreh. You want the latest edition, published by The Lyons Press ~ $19.95. It is an invaluable source for the new recruit as well as serving as a great reference book for the veteran. As it is a poor dog that can't wag its own tail, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my new book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso, veteran fly fishermen. The book covers all aspects of both saltwater and freshwater fishing: Spinning, Baitcasting, Fly Casting; Rods, Reels, Lines, Leaders Tippets & Hooks; Fly-Tying Tools & Materials; Fly -Tying Recipes; Baitfish; Lethal Lures & Live Baits; Kayaking/Canoeing; Seafood Recipes; Smoking Fish.

For the intermediate to the more advanced fly-fishing angler, Rio fly lines are hard to beat. Think Rio, and the recent World Cup matches of 2014 may pop into your mind. Think ahead to 2016, and the Summer Olympics may conjure up the second largest city in Brazil, where the events are to be held in Rio de Janeiro. Ponder its name, and history buffs will be quick to tell you that Rio de Janeiro's English translation is "River of January," when on January 1st, 1502, Portuguese explorer Gasper de Lemos navigated into what he thought was the mouth of a rio (Portuguese word for river), which actually turned out to be the entrance to Guanabara Bay. As I'm not a spectator sport's enthusiast, RIO has a whole other meaning for me. Perhaps it was the same for Jim Vincent, founder of RIO, who had guided for anglers fishing the Rio Colorado in Costa Rica after noting similarities to a river in his home state of Idaho. Hence, the name RIO, which was firmly planted in Jim's mind as in mine.

Far Bank Enterprises is the parent company of Sage, Redington, and RIO fly-fishing products. RIO Products International is a manufacturer and distributor of high quality fly-fishing lines, leaders, and tippet material for over 20 years. RIO Gold WF8F (Weight Forward #8 Floating line) is one of 7 different lines sizes to choose from in the RIO Gold Freshwater Trout Series; that is, WF3F through WF9F. The combination color in that range is Melon/Gray Dun. Other colors offered are Moss/Gold, Orange, and Lumalux, a glow-in-the-dark color that can be charged with a bright light source. Consult RIO Products' website, www.rioproducts.com, for not all colors are offered for the above-stated line sizes.

The RIO Gold Weight Forward #8 Floating line is 100 feet long, consisting of two basic sections. The rear section of the line (running line) attaches to your backing. The length of its running line is 50.5 feet. That leaves a 49.5 foot length of front section, called the head. There's your 100 feet. It's the 49.5 feet with which I want you to concern yourself. The question is can you keep it, or most of it, in the air on your first or second false cast? If you are a beginner, this 49.5 foot head (weighing 315 grains) will likely be too much for you to handle. You need to select a line that you can handle comfortably.

Donna, whom many of you may have come to know through my extensive writings, selected a RIO Grand (not RIO Gold) Trout Series WF7F (Weight Forward Floating) line. Let's examine the basic difference between our two fly lines. Donna's line is also 100 feet long; however, its total head length is 43.2 feet, a difference of 6.3 feet, which translates into 21 grains less than mine as its total head weight is 294 grains. The point is that Donna can comfortably handle this fly line whereas my heavier line would be too much for her.

If you are a beginner, I strongly urge you to select a fly line (be it for freshwater or the suds) with a total head length of no more than a mid-thirty-foot range whether it is a weight forward line, full sinking line, floating/sinking mini tip, et cetera. Casting distance (which concerns many an angler) should be second to accuracy. Greater distance will positively follow through continued practice. Again, work with what you can comfortably handle before moving up to a longer, heavier head. Timing and technique is what it's all about.

The RIO Grand Trout Series fly lines are designed for modern, fast-action fly rods. Too, these weight-forward lines are designed with more weight distributed toward the front of the line in order to easily load the rod. The line incorporates their new MaxCast and MaxFloat Tip Technology. RIO's ultra-sophisticated line coating, and I'll quote, "actively repels water for higher floatation, longer casts and greater durability."

The RIO Gold Trout Series fly lines boasts, and I'll paraphrase, "a revolutionary taper design that offers incredible loop stability, a unique profile that allows a rod to load quickly and crisply, and a front taper design that delivers perfect presentation of flies ranging from sizes #22 to #2. The RIO Gold is the ultimate all round, floating line for the trout angler." I can cast that long 43.2 foot head-length, along with a fair amount of running line, like a breeze.

What I also like about RIO fly lines is that both ends have welded loops. No need to whip-finish and worry if your connections are secure or knot (yes, pun intended). $74.95 each for these and other top-quality sweetwater trout series fly lines is, well, sweet. There are 31 different fly lines in the RIO Gold and RIO Grand series from which to choose: that is, 19 and 12 selections, respectively. Therefore, all that glitters may indeed be both Grand and Gold. Reach for RIO and see for yourself. Additionally, there are many other fly lines from which to choose, serving several applications.

Rio's Saltwater Coldwater Series Outbound and Outbound Short fly lines are fantastic lines for delivering large and heavy flies long distances. The lines are designed to deeply load modern, fast-action rods. Too, RIO's XS technology (a reformulated conventional chemical combination) provides super-slick performance, making the line a breeze to cast. For Donna, I ordered the Outbound Short fly line with a 30-foot shooting head for the simple reason that she can handle it easier than my Outbound fly line with its 37.6-foot shooting head. They are both WF9 F/I (Intermediate) lines, 375 grains, 100-foot lengths, with sink-tip rates of 1.5- to 2-ips. The Coldwater Series is constructed with a distinctive coating to ensure that lines remains tangle free. A great deal at $79.99. Again, RIO's fly lines are looped and welded at both ends. Very nice.

So as not be accused of blatant advertising, I've pictured (below) several brands of fine fly lines that have served Donna and me well over the years. They are quality lines that offer the consumer a high level of performance at a price that won't send purchaser to the poorhouse. They have been put through the rigors of a marine environment, subjected to many a field test on numerous fishing trips by experts in the field as well as yours truly. They have been placed into the hands of veterans and novices alike. No, this account is not akin to a Consumer Reports so much as it is a serious attempt to narrow the playing field in selecting quality fly lines for the newcomer as well as the intermediate fly angler looking for today's added edge. Technology in this arena is growing by leaps and bounds.



Left: Teeny
Middle Top: Scientific Angler
Middle Center: Cortland
Middle Front: RIO
Right: Orvis


For those shying away from what they believe to be an arcane art, fly-fishing is as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. The information set forth is based on a single principle. KISS: Keep It Simple System. Once we start making things too complicated, we wind up omitting an important ingredient from the recipe of success, if not life in general. So let's not forget to factor in what fly-fishing is really all about. Fun. If we have to be convinced and told this twice, thrice or more times, then we must reinforce that solid principle by reminding ourselves and adhering to equation number two. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. I think you get the drift. The rewards of fly-fishing are phenomenal.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

September 01, 2014

RIO: Selecting Weight Forward Freshwater Floating Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Material

by Bob Banfelder

Think Rio, and the recent World Cup matches of 2014 may pop into your mind. Think ahead to 2016, and the Summer Olympics may conjure up the second largest city in Brazil, where the events are to be held in Rio de Janeiro. Ponder its name, and history buffs will be quick to tell you that Rio de Janeiro's English translation is "River of January," when Portuguese explorer Gasper de Lemos navigated into what he thought was the mouth of a rio (word for river), on January 1st, 1502, which actually turned out to be the entrance to Guanabara Bay. I guess because I'm not a spectator sport's enthusiast, RIO has a whole other meaning for me. Perhaps it was the same for Jim Vincent, founder of RIO, who had guided for anglers fishing the Rio Colorado in Costa Rica after noting similarities to a river in his home state of Idaho. Hence, the name RIO, which was planted firmly in Jim's mind as it is in mine.

RIO's Freshwater Fly Lines:

Far Bank Enterprises is the parent company of Sage, Redington, and RIO fly-fishing products. RIO Products International is a manufacturer and distributor of high quality fly-fishing lines, leaders, and tippet material for over 20 years. We'll begin with my fist selection of a RIO Gold WF8F (Weight Forward #8 Floating line). It is one of 7 different lines sizes to choose from in the RIO Gold Freshwater Trout Series; that is, WF3F through WF9F. The combination color in that range is Melon/Gray Dun. Other colors offered are Moss/Gold, Orange, and Lumalux, a glow in the dark color that can be charged with a bright light source. Consult RIO Products' website, www.rioproducts.com, for not all colors are offered for the above-stated line sizes.

All fly lines are not created equal. All weight forward floating lines are not created equal. Therefore it is important to have a basic understanding of these fly lines. Keeping what can be a complicated subject simple is the key to understanding. Let's examine the nomenclature of my RIO Gold Weight Forward #8 Floating line. It is 100 feet long, consisting of two basic sections. The rear section of the line that attaches to your backing is called the running line. The length of my running line is 50.5 feet. That leaves a 49.5 foot length of front section, which is called the head. There's your 100 feet. It's the 49.5 feet with which I want you to concern yourself. The question is can you keep it, or most of it, in the air on your first or second false cast? If you are a beginner, this 49.5 foot head (weighing 315 grains) will be too much for you to handle. You need to select a line that you can handle comfortably.


RIO Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Material

For Donna, whom most of you know by now through my writings, she selected a RIO Grand (not RIO Gold) Trout Series WF7F (Weight Forward #7 Floating) line. Let's examine the basic difference between our two fly lines. Her line is also 100 feet long; however, its total head length is only 43.2 feet, a difference of 6.3 feet from mine, which translates into 21 grains less than mine as its total head weight is 294 grains. The point is that Donna can comfortably handle this fly line whereas my heavier line would be too much for her.

If you are a beginner, I strongly urge you to select a fly line, be it for freshwater or the suds, with a total head length [be it a weight forward, shooting taper, floating/sinking mini tip, et cetera] in the mid-thirty-foot range. Casting distance (which concerns many an angler) is not to be measured, initially, by the size of the line, but rather by continued practice. Again, it's what you can comfortably handle before going up to a heavier head. Timing and technique is what it's all about.

The RIO Grand Trout Series fly lines are designed for modern, fast-action fly rods. Too, these weight-forward lines are designed with more weight distributed toward the front of the line in order to easily load the rod. The line incorporates their new MaxCast and MaxFloat Tip Technology. RIO's ultra-sophisticated line coating, and I'll quote, "actively repels water for higher floatation, longer casts and greater durability."

The RIO Gold Trout Series fly lines boasts, and I'll paraphrase, "a revolutionary taper design that offers incredible loop stability, a unique profile that allows a rod to load quickly and crisply, and a front taper design that delivers perfect presentation of flies ranging from sizes #22 to #2. The RIO Gold is the ultimate all round, floating line for the trout angler." I can cast that long 43.2 foot head-length, along with a fair amount of running line, like a breeze.


The author fly-fishing the Cayuga Inlet in Ithaca

What I also like about our new fly lines are that both ends have welded loops. No need to whip-finish and worry if your connections are secure or knot (yes, pun intended). $74.95 each for these and other top-quality sweetwater trout series fly lines is, well, sweet. There are 31 different fly lines in the RIO Gold and RIO Grand series to choose from: that is 19 and 12 selections, respectively. Therefore, all that glitters may indeed be both Grand and Gold. Reach for RIO and see for yourself. Additionally, there are many other fly lines to choose from to serve several different applications.

RIO's Fluroflex Tapered Leaders:

RIO's fly-fishing leaders had its beginnings when Jim Vincent and his wife Kitty toured North America in their Airstream trailer. Today, RIO's Fluorflex tapered leaders are 100% fluorocarbon and boast tough abrasion resistance along with knot and tensile strength. These leaders have long butt sections which turn flies over facilely for that perfect presentation.

When a virtually invisible presentation is desired and required for spooky trout in crystal-clear water, my RIO 9 foot, 5X, 4-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader is the ticket to success. For a bit more finesse, Donna's RIO 9 foot, 6X, 3-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader is perfection personified.

From 0X (12-pound test) down to 7X (2-pound test), you have your choice of 8 nine foot, deadly, freshwater fluorocarbon tapered leaders to fool the wariest of fish. Don't even think of fishing for finicky freshwater species, especially trout, with general purpose monofilament/copolymer (nylon) leaders. Why? Because you want to give yourself the added edge. Nylon leaders are generally fine for the suds, but you want to lead with a leader that surpasses all others. Yes? So why settle for less? RIO tapered leaders, with their hand-tied perfection loops at the butt end for quick rigging, are the very best of the best. Period.

Now, let's be candid. These nine-foot fluorocarbon leaders are not cheap. They will run you $12.95 each as opposed to $4.95 a pop for RIO's nylon saltwater selections. However, you will be giving yourself the added edge with fluorocarbon over nylon material. You want a tapered leader material that is practically indiscernible in the water column. Think about your outlay for a quality fly rod and reel. Why would you shortchange yourself when it comes to the terminal end of your outfit? Why indeed?

RIO's Fluoroflex Freshwater Tippet Material:

To top off Donna's 9 foot, 6X, 3-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader as well as my 9 foot, 5X, 4-pound test leader, we selected, of course, corresponding 30 yard spools of RIO's Fluoroflex freshwater tippet material; $12.95 each. Approximately 2 feet up from the end of my 9 foot, 5X leader is the discernable point where the tapered diameter changes. Therefore, when I lose a couple of feet of leader material due to changing flies, et cetera, I add about 2 feet of tippet material. Good to go.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


August 01, 2014

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum: Fishing the Willowemoc

by Bob Banfelder

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum is located on a 35-acre parcel in Livingston Manor, New York, along the banks of Willowemoc Creek. Acquiring additional acreage through the years has increased the property to 55.66 acres along a mile of accessible, prime, No Kill, trout water. The Center also holds title to Junction Pool, which is the headwater of the main stream of the Beaver Kill. In other words, the area is an angling mecca just this side of Paradise for freshwater trout, especially brookies and browns. Having toured the museum, walked the Center's nature trail, and spoken at length with Jim Krul (executive director) and Erin Phelan (executive assistant), Donna and I are ready to wet a line in Wulff Run, which is situated in the middle section of Willowemoc Creek. The middle section of the Willowemoc flows from the village of Willowemoc to Livingston Manor. Its banks are lined with beautiful hemlock and spruce.




Jim Krul, Executive Director, The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, talking with the author

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum is all about preserving, protecting, and promoting fly-fishing—period. It is the world's largest fly-fishing center, recognized internationally and the home of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, the Demarest Rodmakers Gallery, the Poul Jorgensen Golden Hook Award, the Catskill Rodmakers Gathering, the Hardy Cup, the Wulff Gallery, and The Catskill Rodmakers Workshop and Arts of the Angler Craft Center. Also, it is the sister museum to Italy's International Museum of Fly Fishing in Castel di Sangro, dedicated to Stanislao Kuckiewicz. Wow!


Sculpture titled: Soon To Be Released by Bob Wolf portrays Lee Wulff, The "Father" of Catch and Release, about to release an Atlantic Salmon

The Willowemoc is 26.7 miles long and flows westerly through Livingston Manor to Roscoe; there it joins the Beaver Kill at the famous Junction Pool. In 1983 the museum first opened as a storefront in Roscoe before relocating to its present location. The lower section of the Willowemoc ranges from 40 to 100 feet wide, with many pools averaging between three to five feet deep. By comparison, back home on Long Island, our three gems, the Carmans, Nissequogue, and the Connetquot Rivers, would have to be deemed brooks when compared to Willowemoc Creek. Everything is relative.

Willowemoc Creek in Region 3 (Southeastern New York), Sullivan County, is stocked annually with over 18,000 brown trout, while brook trout thrive well on their own. Rainbow trout do fair to middling. The section of Willowemoc Creek, 1,200 feet above the mouth of Elm Hollow Brook to 3.5 miles downstream to the second Route 17 Quickway Bridge east of Roscoe is catch and release only, year- round, artificial lures solely.

In the Willowemoc Creek Region 3 (Southeastern New York), Sullivan County section, from Iron Bridge at Pakston, downstream, trout season opens April 1st and runs through November 30th. An angler may take 5 trout daily, which must be a minimum length of 9 inches.

Mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies appear to be the preferred ‘match-the-hatch' patterns for Willowemoc Creek. Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, Blue-winged Olives, Gray Drakes, Hendricksons, March Browns, miniature Midges (which may sound oxymoronic ~ more on midges in a moment), and Red Quills head the list in alphabetical order. Yet I can't wait till Donna and I introduce Jim to the gray nymph Gimp Fly that I tie. The fly was originated by Lacey E. Gee and highly praised by his friend Erwin D. Sias, who later wrote an article published in Outdoor Life (November 1950 issue), titled "They Go for the Gimp." It is my go-to fly for the four seasons and for one reason. The Gimp fly catches trout: brooks, rainbows and browns. Too, it is a great fly for bluegills and crappies. I have been using this deadly fly since the late sixties. The Gimp is presented in my new book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water. I tie a saltwater pattern for the suds. Pictured below are a number of trout that fell for The Gimp while fishing the Nissequogue, Carmans, and Connetquot rivers of Long Island through the years. However, I'll be sure to have on hand a good selection of the above mentioned patterns for the Willowemoc . . . just in case.



Selecting flies to cast at random can prove to be a complete waste of time, kind of like employing them alphabetically as cited above. Therefore, knowing what fly to tie to your tippet during a particular time of year will dramatically increase the odds of hooking and landing a prize. For example, specific to the Willowemoc from the middle of March to the end of May, select a Blue-winged Olive for openers. Blue Quills and Quill Gordons would be a good choice for around mid-April. Around the third week in April to mid-May, Hendricksons and Red Quills would be a good choice. Around the fourth week in April to the middle of May, Gray Drakes appear on the scene and would be a smart choice. March Browns emerge around the middle of May and well into June. Those midges, mentioned earlier, can be fished all year. And don't overlook terrestrials; that is, insects that are born and spend their ephemeral existence on land but inadvertently fall prey to hungry trout via heavy winds and torrential rains. Ants, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers patterns are a few of my favorite imitations. Moving from small patterns to bigger flies, streamers, but of course, immediately come to mind, for the thinking is that a big fly will catch a big trout. But keep in mind that midge patterns fool many big trout as well. And as for my Gimp fly, I tie them on hooks ranging from sizes 16 to 6. Most of my bigger trout, namely browns, were taken with hook sizes ranging somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

My son and I have fond memories of the Catskill area, having fished, of course, the Beaver Kill, fueled body and soul at the Roscoe Dinner, and overnighted at the Antrim Lodge. Donna and I will be fishing the Finger Lake region, with special attention initially beginning with Cayuga Lake. Lake trout and salmon are on our minds and will be most definitely on the menu, not to mention mixing it up with a bit of deer and small game hunting. Andrew Burns of Dick's Sporting Goods in Ithaca was a wealth of information, pointing us in the right direction relating to newcomers fishing and hunting the area. On the way home, Donna and I made a nostalgic stop at the Roscoe Dinner; wholesome food, as always, and plenty of it. As Donna and I love Italian food (and who doesn't?), we'll be making it a point to dine at Raimondo's Restaurant on our next trip to Roscoe, after visiting angling shops in the area.

The two fly-fishing shops that are a must visit are The Beaverkill Angler, www.beaverkillangler.com, 52 Stewart Avenue, and Catskill Flies www.catskillflies.com, 6 Stewart Avenue (right across the street, under the green awning), both in the village of Roscoe. Local angling knowledge along with a wide selection of flies and equipment are what you will uncover within these two well-stocked shops pictured below.


One of the Many Displays at The Beaverkill Angler


Catskill Flies


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com





June 01, 2014

Traveling Long Island for Trout

by Bob Banfelder

From Freshwater Rainbows & Browns to the Suds for Weakfish ~ a.k.a. Sea Trout

Laurel Lake for Rainbows & Browns:

Getting a late start this season, Donna and I grabbed our Mad River Canoe on April 3rd, heading for Laurel Lake to wet a line. People ask me, "Where is Laurel Lake, exactly?" It sounds a bit confusing when you try and explain it to some folks, for Laurel is a CDP; that is, a Census-Designated Place; a hamlet of Laurel, located mostly within the town of Southold, but with a tiny section situated in the town of Riverhead. To confound matters, Laurel Lake is considered to be within the boundary of Mattituck, as it lies within the Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District. Huh? As convoluted as these lines of demarcation are so deemed and mapped, a moment of lucidity shines through in the realization that, "Yes, you can get there from here." From Riverhead, take Route 25 heading east for approximately six miles to the town of Laurel. A DEC access sign to the town park will be on your left; drive to the back parking area.

It was good to be back out on the water after such a cold and snowy winter. As we portaged along the 200-yard path leading from the parking area to the shoreline, I couldn't help noticing deer sign—everywhere: rubs, scrapes, and excrement. For a moment, I was back in a hunting mood, Donna having to remind me that we were here for fishing, not pursuing whitetails. Laurel Lake Preserve and Park is a 480-acre parcel teeming with wildlife. Laurel Lake, itself, is a 30-acre gem.


Laurel Lake DEC Access & Information

Twice in April, the DEC first stocks the lake with 240 rainbow trout then later in the month, 260 brown trout, both species initially ranging between 8½–9½ inches. Come fall, these freshwater fishes of the Salmonidea family reach 14 inches on average. Lunkers lurk in this lake, too.

Not only will the angler find rainbows and browns ranging through this kettle hole (in this case formed by a retreating glacier eons ago), he or she will encounter both largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, brown bullheads (catfish), chain pickerel, pumpkinseed, and white and yellow perch. Now, if that's not a sweetwater smorgasbord found in our own neck of the woods and water, well, let me tell you that it just doesn't get any sweeter than this. If you're a freshwater fanatic, you're going to fall in love with Laurel Lake.

The lake has no inlet or outlet stream, which means that there is virtually no runoff, resulting in one of the cleanest, clearest small bodies of water on Long Island. It is 47 feet deep in its center. Knowing where, how, and when to fish this honey hole is the key to success. A small hand-carry craft such as a canoe or kayak (no motoring), will give you an edge over shoreline anglers for obvious reasons. This is not to say that Donna and I haven't caught keepers from the shoreline.

Spinner baits trailing night crawlers will work wonders for the majority of species mentioned. Of course, if you're a purist, a fly rod employing a streamer fly such as a Muddler Minnow or a deadly dun-colored Gimp will stay the course. I have taken more trout with the Gimp fly than Carter (no not Jimmy) has little liver pills. Since the mid-sixties, it is my go-to fly for all seasons. In my new book, THE FISHING SMART ANYWHERE HANDBOOK ~ FOR SALT WATER & FRESH WATER, I discuss discovering this fantastic freshwater fly, present a brief history, as well as offer a tying recipe for both sweet and saltwater, the latter of which is my own creation. Also, a book that should become your freshwater bible is Tom Schlichter's Long Island's Best Freshwater Fishing, covering streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the Island, and then some. If you are a freshwater fanatic, this book belongs on your shelf if not in the glove compartment of your vehicle.

Nissequogue River for Rainbows & Browns:

Heading west on April the 14th, Donna and I had signed up for the late morning 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. session on sections (beats) #4 and #5 of the Nissequogue River. That section of water, eight beats in all (#2–#9), is run by Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown. Fly-fishing only on that stretch of the Nissequogue River is available from April 1st to October 15th. A New York State freshwater fishing license and reservations are required. A four-hour session (7:00 to 11:00, or 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. is $20. Years ago, they had an evening session, too. It would not be unusual for me to sign up for all three sessions, bring lunch, and fish for brookies, rainbows, and browns the whole day through. The permit fee was only $5 back then. The cost, of course, went up as times certainly do change. What has not changed, however, is the beautiful, serene setting. Give this north shore wonder a shot. Although designated a river, the section of water covered here (beats #2–#9), may arguably be considered a stream; unarguably, stream-like. Hey, I didn't say a brook. Anyhow, if you're not into wading this relatively shallow flow in hip boots or waders, the area has pond platforms #10–#14 on Vail Pond. Donna and I have taken good-sized pan fish from those platforms. Stick with the Muddler Minnow for some serious fun on the pond.


The Gimp Does its Duty for Dinner

Selecting the aforementioned Gimp fly, then later the Muddler Minnow that mid-April day, Donna had a ball with a series of rainbows measuring 13 inches and 13½ inches. I stayed with my Gimp and nailed a few nice browns, also in the 13-inch category. A 19-inch rainbow appoints a wall in our home, taken on the Gimp from days gone by.

The Peconics (river and bays) for Weakfish:

Moving from the freshwater scene at Laurel Lake and the Nissequogue River to the briny side of the Peconics (namely, its river and bays), Donna and I launched our boat in mid-April. With the water surface temperatures above 50º Fahrenheit, it was prime time. Striped bass season had opened on the 15th; however, the big boys and girls were not in our area as of yet. Schoolie bass were the name of the game from the 105 Bridge area and eastward. Big bluefish were being taken out at Shinnecock. Schoolie-sized bass to eighteen inches gave us action through the third week of May. Then, suddenly, members of the Cynoscion regalis family, namely weakfish (a.k.a. sea trout, tide runners, gray trout, yellowmouths), entered the area in numbers, whereas the action had been rather spotty and sporadic in 2012–2013.

We went from targeting schoolies (all you wanted, truly) with our go-to lure for most species (Kastmasters with eyes that I epoxy upon the tin), to breaking out our arsenal of pink deceivers for the prettiest fish that swims in our waters—the venerable weakfish. Our go-to lure (a lead head teaser rig) for those prize-worthy swimmers was tied for me by Nick Posa, one of finest fishermen for virtually all species in the northeast. Nick is the proverbial "walking encyclopedia" of angling, be it fresh water or the suds. On top of that, he is one of the nicest people on the planet. What more can I say about Nick than to share with you the basics of a special rig he ties, which is an absolute killer for weakfish.

Secure a Spro Prime or Spro Prime-type ¾ ounce lead head jig with a 3/0 hook tied with pink bucktail atop the shank, white bucktail tied along the bottom; same basic color pattern as the lead head. Secure a Spro Prime or Spro Prime-type ¼ ounce lead head jig with a 1/0 hook tied with just darker pink bucktail for the smaller lead head; silver iris with black pupils for both pairs of eyes. Study the photograph. Note the modicum of flash material along its skirt.




Nick Posa's Deadly Lead-Head Tandem Rig for Weaks

As I haven't tied this deadly duo in tandem as yet, I'll simply give you the general specs. You'd begin the procedure with approximately 48 inches of 20-pound test monofilament line. Eighteen inches down from the top of a barrel swivel is a 2-inch dropper loop tied to the Spro Prime-type ¾ ounce lead head jig. Twenty-one inches down from the dropper loop, is the ¼ ounce lead head jig. You should wind up with a three-foot tandem rig. Good to go.

As of this writing, that is, right on through this last day of May, Donna and I are nailing these beauties. As my reports appear on the first of the month, in this case, June 1st, don't lose a second by waiting till the 2nd; get out there today and get in on this great action. Grab anything pink for openers. No, I don't mean pants and/or shirt, fellas; people will talk. Set your drag slightly lighter than you normally would because these fish have tissue paper-thin mouths that will easily tear a lip when setting the hook; hence, they're aptly named weakfish. Finesse that fish. Oh, and have that landing net handy. Also, when you unhook the fish, be careful of those sharp fang-like teeth at the top of its jaw. I've seen veteran anglers forget . . . Ouch!

See you out there.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


May 01, 2013

Along with the Sound of Music, These are a Few of My Favorite Things

by Bob Banfelder

For freshwater fishing, the Gimp is my favorite fly for trout. Donna and I have caught brooks, browns and rainbows as well as a variety of panfish such as bluegills and perch with this fantastic wet fly pattern. I duped this 19-inch rainbow taken from Suffolk County's Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale, Long Island.



Pictured across the top of the following photo are one half-dozen Gimps ranging in hook sizes #16, 14, 12, 10, 8 and 6. Right below the set of hooks is my original mantis shrimp imitation (left corner), which initially turned out to be a bit too heavy for a fly but worked well with a light- to medium-action spinning outfit. To its right is my Green Grabber for saltwater applications. It was inspired by Erwin D. Sias' creation of his original Gimp fly. Adjacent to the Green Grabber is my Big Bull's-Eye fly. As what started out as a bit of tomfoolery, since I affix eyes to virtually every lure imaginable, my big-eyed pattern proved to be a venerable winner, taking nearly everything that swims in our bays.

The next four bunker patterns (adults and peanuts), ranging between 3- to 9-inches, have netted Donna and I some truly nice stripers, blues and weakfish. Two of the four patterns are a variation of Lefty Kreh's world-renowned Deceiver fly. The 4-inch bunker fly [pictured immediately above my 8-inch Dissembler streamer/bunker fly] is fashioned after Enrico Puglisi's Peanut Butter Family of flies. The materials that the man manufactures as well as the flies he ties and markets are absolutely awesome, accounting for some of Donna's biggest fish—along with bragging rights.

In the lower left corner is my significantly lighter 8-inch mantis shrimp fly that casts and tracks well. I managed to double the length to 8 inches while shedding 25 grains off its original weight; that is, 111.5 grains down to 85.5 grains. Tell me that's not an interesting weight reduction program. It took a while to come up with the materials to make this fly doable. Donna has also taken some respectable stripers and blues with this lighter variation as depicted in my March 1st, 2013 blog. With the exception of the original weightier mantis, these eight flies pretty much cover the gamut of both our fresh and saltwater fly-fishing applications for which we've enjoyed continued success.



With two exceptions, articles pertaining to the aforementioned patterns and their recipes are noted on my website under Publications at the top of the home page: www.robertbanfelder.com. Scroll the articles listed for the recipe(s) you're interested in, note the date of the magazine or blog publication, then log on to Nor'east Saltwater, www.noreast.com and search their magazine postings and/or my blog postings.
For example:

Nor'east Saltwater, January 2013. "Mantis Shrimp Recipe for 7-inch Fly (Squilla enpusa) New & Improved" 1,900 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, May 1, 2012. "Gimp Gone Green: Transition from Freshwater to Saltwater Fly Recipe" 740 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, April 7, 2009, Volume 20, Number 4. Fly-Tying Series: Part III of a three-part series – "Fly Tying for Beginners" [Includes Bob B's Baby (peanut) Bunker Fly ~ Bob B's Black & White Big Bull's-Eye Fly] 3,300 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, September 3, 2008, Volume 19, Number 20. "Tying sizable Flies with Sythetics: Materials, Tricks of the Trade, Tools & Tactics" Eight-inch Sand Eel recipe. 2,250 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, March 1, 2005, Volume 16, Number 3. "Mantis Shrimp Fly Recipe" Tying instructions for the heavier (111.5 grain) mantis; better suited for light- to medium-action spinning outfit. 1,867 words.

Here is the recipe for my New & Improved 8-inch Dissembler Bunker/Streamer Fly—deadly as in a coffin nail.

Materials for Bob B's Lethal 8-inch Dissembler Fly

Note: Because some materials may be more readily available than others, I'm presenting a range of materials from which to select.

Hook: O'Shaughnessy Style 3/0 or 4/0. Gamakatsu and Owner hooks are quite popular.
Thread: White, 3/0 Orvis Saltwater/Bass Thread, Danville's flat waxed nylon, or Gudebrod Kevlar.
Weight: Lead wire (optional): .020, .025, or .030. Any brand name will do just fine.
Underbelly: White bucktail.
Throat: Red Supreme Hair by Wapsi, or red Fluro Fibre by Raymond C. Rump & Son, or red marabou, or dyed-red bucktail is also suitable.
Body & Tail: Wavy or crinkly synthetic fiber strands of eight, ten and fourteen-inch lengths, such as Wapsi's Supreme Hair, Orvis' Marabou Hair, or Spirit River's Slinky Fibre, or Cotton Candy fibers by Mirror Image, Polyfibre, or Enrico Puglisi's fibers; i.e., EP-Fibers, EP-Fibers 3-D or EP-Ultimate Fibers (available only in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inches—not 14-inches. Therefore, substitute 14-inch lengths with one of the above mentioned fibers). Try to obtain an assortment of colors such as light and dark shades of white, yellow, blue, green, brown, and gray.

Note: Enrico Puglisi fibers are not wavy and crinkly but work extremely well with this fly, too.

Flash: Copper.
Back: Peacock herl.
Eyes: 10-millimeter doll eyes; hollow or solid.
Epoxy: Five-minute, two-part Z-Poxy resin/hardener is my first choice. Any other two-part plastic epoxy should work well.

Procedure for Bob B's 8-inch Dissembler Fly ~ New & Improved

1. Behind the eye of the hook, approximately 1/8 of an inch, take several turns and tie in a section of lead wire (optional—depending where in the water column you wish to be), wrapping the weight neatly to the bend. Follow with the thread, back-and-forth, covering the wire and ending at the bend of the hook.
2. Take an eight-inch length of approximately ten strands of white fiber, wrap the thread around the middle of the stack at the bend of the hook, fold up and back onto itself; secure tightly in place.
3. Repeat the procedure with a fourteen-inch length of approximately ten strands of yellow fibers, wrapping the stack in front of the last section, folding it up and back onto itself as before; secure firmly in place. Note that from the front of the wrapped lead wire to the tail, the fly is approximately eight inches long.
4. Repeat step 3 with a ten-inch length of about ten strands of dark blue fiber. Wrap and secure as before, working fractionally forward, alternating among the long and short lengths of approximately eight, fourteen, and ten-inch strands until you reach the halfway point of the wire weight, moving through shades of green such as olive (back to eight-inches), light gray (fourteen-inches), to brown (ten-inches), perhaps a misty green (eight-inches). I finished with light blue (fourteen-inches) fibers. Most magically, you will see the streamer take shape.

Note: Experiment. Be creative. Learn what big baitfish are cruising your waters and when. The important thing is not to dress your fly too heavily. You want to achieve a profile of the baitfish with light refracting and reflecting off and through the materials. You do not want to present a mop head nor a brush that could be used to paint a barn.

5. Atop the last stack of fibers, tie in six strands of copper flash, about six inches in length. Trim.
6. Repeat the last step using peacock herl.
7. Rotate the vise 180 degrees (nice if you have a rotary) and tie in fifteen to twenty strands of three-inch long white bucktail at the center of the wrapped lead, extending the deer hair rearward along the bottom of the shank.
8. Tie in a small amount of blood-red throat material for the gills—beneath but only fractionally beyond the bend.
9. Again, rotate the vise. Wrap the thread forward to form a gradually tapered cone shape, working toward the eye of the hook. Whip finish and trim.
10. Epoxy the back of both doll eyes then press together on each side of the hook shank at a point just rear of the tapered head. Wait until the epoxy sets up then fill in the gaps along the circumference of the eyes. Epoxy the cone-shaped nose, making the Dissembler virtually bulletproof. Now, hold the fly broadside up to the light. Can you practically see through it? You're in business.



The only issue remaining, since I'm into sizable flies, is that I need something just short of a valise in which to carry them. However, I'll continue to sing the same refrain: These are a few of my favorite things.



Hope to see you at the Port Jefferson Maritime Festival this weekend May 4th and 5th. I'll be giving a talk both days at 2 p.m. re writing articles for the great outdoors, and Donna will address getting published. I'll have copies of my new fishing book The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water available along with my award-winning thrillers.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

March 01, 2013

Fly-Fishing & Fine Fare ~ Recipes for Success

by Bob Banfelder

A decade ago, on a beautiful summer morning, Donna and I took a fishing trip along the Peconic River to a spot just southeast of the 105 Bridge in Riverhead. I paddled our sixteen-foot canoe along the bank before putting a 9' #8-weight Scott rod coupled to a Super 8 Abel reel spooled with 100' of Teeny TS 350 Speed Sink/Floating Line (for rod sizes #8–10) into the anxious angler's hands. Anxious because she could cast well enough to send line and lure out to distances of forty to fifty feet, thanks to Dan Eng's tutelage. Dan was and still is the venerable fly-casting instructor at Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. Dan had worked with Donna and me during pre-meeting sessions. Later, we continued with private lessons, having improved our casting techniques. Such clubs are fortunate to have talented folks like Dan as members.

I had tried several fly lines and am sold on Teeny Line, especially for beginners. The magic is in the marriage of a floating line matched to a sinking head. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine its balancing point, so there is no guesswork as when to draw and shoot the line. When both colors extend approximately a foot past the rod tip, it's magic time. And talk about cutting through the wind; it's simply a breeze. I could easily sail an imitation out to eighty feet. But at that point in time, Donna was holding the goods. I had the paddle.

After a dozen casts toward and perpendicular to the shoreline, my better half spotted a swirl several yards out toward the center of the river, excitedly instructing me to "swing this banana about!" so that she didn't have to contort her body into position. Quite candidly, it's a tippy canoe, designed for cruising, not serving very well as a solid fishing platform—not by any stretch of those sixteen rockable feet. Not about to argue, I executed a powerful draw stroke, pivoting the craft parallel to a promising seam and another swirl.

Two false casts and Donna sent the six-inch bunker imitation several feet past yet another swirl. The first 30-foot section of 7-ips (sink rate) green-tipped sinking line hit the water and immediately disappeared. Thirty feet had been a lot for her to keep airborne, but she managed. Seconds later, on a moderate retrieve, five yards or so of red floating line suddenly tore across the bow of the banana as Donna set the hook. The canoe was headed toward a piling. The drag on an Abel is about as able as you're going to get. Smooth as silk and satin. The 8-weight Scott rod performed flawlessly.

"Rod up! Let him run," I hollered.
"It's making a beeline for the piling," she protested.
"Good. Maybe it'll knock itself out," I half-kidded. "He's turning."
"So's the boat," she brayed.

I knew Donna had hooked into a good size fish, maybe more than she could handle on a fly rod. "Stay with him," I commanded, like she really had a choice. Donna fought the denizen for a good two minutes.

"I can't hold him much longer."
"Oh, but you can and you will, or there won't be any supper for you."
"Then we'll go to Danowski's or Gallo's fish market," she threatened.
"That's not exactly what I meant."
"Oh, my God!"

The big fish jumped and splashed. Bigger than the cocktail blues she'd been getting on spin-casting lures. Bigger than schoolie bass, too. It wasn't a monster, but I knew it would break five pounds; that is, if it didn't first break the leader. The fish jumped again. A good-size blue I believed, although I wasn't really sure at that point—maybe a bass. Forty-five of seventy feet of red running/low profile floating line was now stripped from the spool, I guesstimated, totaling seventy-five feet in all. Slowly, Donna was gaining on him.

"He's getting tired," I offered encouragingly.
"Then he's winning the battle because I'm getting exhausted. Correction. I am exhausted!"
"Look! He's on his side," I offered encouragingly.
"Look! I'm practically on my knees."
I had net in hand. "Maneuver him toward the center—I can't reach him from here."
"I can't."
"You can."
"I hate you!"
"Take it out on the fish when you bring him alongside. Do it!"

[Note: We have this conversation every time Donna catches a decent size fish, except on charter boats where there are witnesses around. Fighting thirty to thirty-five pound stripers with conventional tackle, Donna simply hollers, "Whoa!" at the top of her lungs. Of course, she'll get a little help from a mate who'll repeatedly tell her, "You call out 'Fish on!' not 'Whoa!' You're fishing, lady, not horseback riding."]

The fish splashed and thrashed then dove for a final time before Donna had him alongside the canoe and I was able to scoop him neatly into the net. It flapped and pounded the floor of the canoe to the powerful pounding of Donna's heart, I'm sure. A beautiful twenty-four inch, five and three-quarter pound blue.

"Do we return him to the water or keep him?" I asked.
"My first real fish on a fly rod? Are you crazy? I caught him. I'll cook him. And we'll eat him tonight."
"Would you like to fillet him, too?"
"No, that's your department."
"Happy?"
"I'm hooked. When can we do this again?"
"How about right now?"
"I need a breather. Besides, we've got to get this fish home now because you forgot to bring ice. How about tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow it is."
"I love you."
"A moment ago you hated me, you said."
"I did not."
"You did, and I'm going to record it in an article."
"I'll deny it! Folks won't believe you!" she declared.
"Sure they will. For all fishwives are liars, everybody knows."
"Listen."
"I'm listening."
"We'll go tomorrow, but we're not fishing from this tippy canoe. Alright? We'll take the pilothouse. Okay?"
"Okay. But you'll use a different line and lure; the fly I'm working on."
"You mean your mantis shrimp imitation."
"Yep."
"Fine."
"Are you going to make my favorite bluefish recipe tonight?"
"Done," she swore.

And she did. Here it is—the great irony being that Donna had at one time truly hated bluefish and anchovies before landing this marvelous recipe. It was given to us by Bev and Bob Johnsen of Southold; a dynamite recipe for any oily fish. I pass this on to you in memory of those two folks with whom we boated for many years.

Bluefish Bake


Ingredients:

2 bluefish fillets (cocktail blues or larger are fine; amounts below are for the larger fillets—adjust accordingly)
5 anchovies
1½ cups of Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation
:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place fillets in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the fillets.
2. Bake fish for about 15 minutes or until flaky.
3. While fish is baking, mash the anchovies with a mortar and pestle and add the mayonnaise, mixing the ingredients well.
4. Remove dish from oven. Switch oven to Hi broil.
5. Smear the mayo/anchovy mixture over the top of the fillets. Place under broiler. The mayo/anchovy mixture will begin to bubble. Remove the fillets when the mixture is golden brown.

Bon appétit.

As a postscript, Donna did not take another nice fish on a fly rod the following day. However, with a bit of persistence, she did manage to nail an even bigger blue sometime later with my mantis shrimp design, but with a different fly rod and line set-up: a 9' #10-weight Temple Fork Outfitters, Lefty Kreh Signature Series 1, coupled to the same Super 8 Able reel, spooled with 100' of Teeny's 8 ips (sink rate) T-400 (Yellow/Brown) Speed Sink/Floating Line (for rod sizes 8–12). The T series 24-foot sinking section was a lot easier for Donna to handle than the TS 30-foot section, especially when casting a heavier 7-inch imitation.



Of course, I had to deal with Donna's continued abuse aboard Write On, having to constantly remind her that I am in command as the captain of our pilothouse vessel, which certainly carried a lot more authority than trying to convince anyone that I was the captain of the aforementioned canoe.

You can locate my mantis fly recipe in January's 2013 online magazine issue of Nor'east Saltwater. The article is titled Mantis Shrimp Recipe for 7-inch Fly (Squilla empusa) New & Improved.

www.robertbanfelder.com

September 01, 2012

KEEN ON KAYAKS

by Bob Banfelder

Along our waterways, folks are fast realizing that kayaking is a smart way to go. These marvelous crafts are great for touring, exercise, exploring, picnicking and, of course, fishing. Try kayaking from a stable fishing platform and you'll definitely be hooked. Donna (my significant fishing pal of forty years) and I have fished in power vessels big and small: party boats, charters and privately owned mid-sized machines. All served their intended purpose well and accorded us great times. However, a yak will allow you to navigate some very skinny waters. With our Ocean Prowler Big Game Angler fishing kayak, which measures 12 feet 9 inches in length, Donna is the sole, interim captain of her craft, plying the waters of the Peconic River and its bays for blues, bass, porgies, blowfish, blackfish and an occasional weakfish. This summer season has been surprisingly great for weaks.

Sharing a single person sit-on-top (SOT) yak, we vie for time and tide. For sheer fun, one of us will be seen on the water at least once a week with fly rod in hand: a Sage 9-weight and a Pflueger reel—loaded with Teeny TS-300 Series 6.5 ips, 24-foot sinking section/58-foot floating section—perfect for working the shorelines of our area. Donna will cast a fly and catch countless fish from our fishing yak. On rather windy days, she'll resort to a light spinning outfit, tossing out poppers and tins into tomorrow. More than occasionally, she'll hook up with a monster blue or bass, excitedly commenting, "Isn't retirement great?" to which I'll respond, "Gee, I don't know, dear. I was busy in the office writing another story about you."



Donna and I very much enjoy kayak fishing. Why? The simple fact is that we tend to use a smaller craft more often than a larger vessel. Too, fighting a leviathan on their level, that is, eye-to-eye, is sheer excitement. If you wish to get into skinny waters with the stablest of platforms, put your canoe up for sale and purchase a yak. Try before you buy is sound advice. Firstly, know where you are generally going to use your yak. Next, investigate sit-on-top models versus sit-inside types, along with the proper clothing you'll need.

For skinny-water angling, nothing beats a kayak. This is not to say that the craft can't handle our bigger bays or even the ocean. I've reported on folks such as Dave Lamoure who hooked, fought and landed a 157-pound bluefin tuna from his 12-foot recreational Heritage FeatherLight kayak off of Provincetown, Rhode Island. That's certainly kayak fishing in the extreme and is mentioned here simply to show the capability of these plastic platforms. For the purpose of this blog, we'll confine ourselves to inshore waters, angling for those fish mentioned earlier, utilizing medium to medium-heavy fly, spin and bait casting outfits. We will leave extreme pelagic fishing from a plastic shell for Dave and others like him.

Selecting the proper platform can prove to be a daunting task simply because there are a plethora of manufacturers and models of kayaks on the market today from which to choose. Fortunately, we can narrow the playing field by focusing in on the single activity that concerns us here; that is, of course, fishing. Many of us who read Nor'east Saltwater are ‘fishing fools.' We don't need to be fishing foolishly. Therefore, choosing the appropriate platform from the get-go is of paramount importance. By selecting a kayak built and set up specifically for the angler, we have just ruled out the explorer class, the tandem touring type, and the wild whitewater adventure craft. How so? The reasons are that the explorer class calls for a longer, narrower vessel to propel one along greater distances. The tandem touring type is designed for two people to get in each other's way when fishing. Lastly, the considerably shorter whitewater craft is configured so as to embrace turn-on-a-dime maneuverability for psyched-up folks who live to ply swift currents and shoot rapids.

Let's now home in on the breed of yak that lends itself to the art of angling—be it spin, bait, or fly-fishing—while at the same time exploring the area of safety. It's important to note that there are basically two types of kayaks: Sit-Ins and Sit-On-Tops.

SIT-INS


Ostensibly, a sit-inside kayak is certainly going to keep you drier than a sit-on-top type. But as safety is predominant, which is the ‘safer' vessel between the two? If you are kayaking in an area with heavy boat traffic, I can almost assure you that some captain, either careless or inconsiderate, is going to leave you in his or her wake—a situation that may or may not result in your taking on water or, worse yet, swamping and capsizing you. The cockpit is going to fill, and unless you know a few safety procedures such as the Eskimo roll or paddle float rescue, you could find yourself in dire straits.

SIT-ONS


Common sense tells you that your season is going to be somewhat limited if you select a sit-on-top kayak, merely because you are going to get somewhat wet. You may not want to be braving the elements at the end of November through the middle of March, although you certainly could with the right outfit—namely, a wet suit or dry suit. As the sit-on-top kayak is self-bailing, the craft is positively the safer of the two vessels, for it is a relatively simple procedure to climb back aboard if you are capsized. Not so with a sit-in type.

Generally speaking, keep in mind that a kayak's length determines its speed, width determines its stability, and that weight, of course, determines its manageability. As an example, a sit-on-top Angler model Ocean Kayak Prowler 15-foot 4.5-inch long, 28.5-inch wide, 56-pound shell will be propelled from point A to point B quicker than our Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, measuring in at 12 feet 9 inches long, 34 inches wide, and a whopping 69 pounds. That is a 13-pound difference. That's considerable. But I knew where I was going to use the craft predominately if not exclusively; that is, on the Peconic River as well its bays close to home. Weight, therefore, was not such an important consideration. With a 5.5 inch wider width than the narrower model, it is a stable fishing platform. Considering all the kayaks I researched and sea trialed, few came up to my expectations. Of all the kayaks I could speak or write about at length, several kept resurfacing. In addition to the Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, two other manufacturers of serious angling platforms to consider are Wilderness System's Tarpon and Malibu Kayak's X-Factor.

Lastly, select a kayak (preferably a sit-on type) from a reputable manufacturer whose selection features or offers optional equipment and accoutrements set up with the angler in mind: flush-mounted rod holders astern; additional fully adjustable-lockable-removable rod holder brackets set forward; a comfortable seat and backrest; ample storage space; an anchor trolley system; rudder system; and a combination unit GPS/Fishfinder. Why all this paraphernalia and consideration? The answer is because we ideally want the ultimate fishing platform.

A more detailed examination of selecting, accessorizing and maintaining your kayak for angling, inclusive of rudder system, GPS/Fishfinder, apparel, et cetera, can be found in past articles that I have written for Nor'east Saltwater: August 6, 2008, Volume 19, Number 18, "Selecting and Outfitting your Kayak." Also, September, 2007 Nor'east's Club article posted online, "Kudos for Kayaks: Seeking the Best of Both Worlds."

Enough yakking. Get out there and prowl around for that trophy; you'll have a distinct advantage in that a kayak is stealth personified.

**********




This early morning, September 1st, with a full moon hanging in a western sky, Donna and I caught dozens of snappers and several fair-sized cocktail blues. We kept one blue for dinner and returned the rest to Flanders Bay—an hour before low tide. Our North Fork Bays are presently loaded with approximately four-inch bunker as pictured above.


Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Editor in Chief, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

May 01, 2012

Gimp Fly Gone Green: Transition from Freshwater to Saltwater Fly Recipe

by Bob Banfelder

The Green Grabber


My first fly-tying kit came with a sixty-four page booklet titled Practical Flies and Their Construction, written by Lacey E. Gee and Erwin D. Sias, illustrated by John Goettsch (Revised Edition), copyright 1966. I mention in my fly-tying articles to shy away from purchasing bargain-priced fly-tying kits. The vise that generally comes with such a kit is usually no bargain; this was true of my original purchase made nearly fifty years ago. In retrospect, however, that little booklet alone was worth the price of the kit. One particular fly recipe instructed readers on how to tie The Gimp, a deadly freshwater fly for trout. I had used that fly successfully for many years on Long Island, fishing the Nissequogue River, Connetquot River and Carman's River, nailing brook, rainbow and brown trout. I played around with the Gimp in ponds and lakes for bluegills and perch. Later in life, I plied the waters of upstate New York and Canada. The Gimp is one of my freshwater favorites. It is my go-to fly, rarely having failed me. The fly was Sias' creation. The pattern was initially published in an Outdoor Life magazine article titled They Go for the Gimp. Interestingly, a good many fly-fishing folks never heard of the fly, while others remember it vaguely. The Gimp is a lethal freshwater fly—a fly that comes along once in a great while. I had often wondered how it would fare in the suds.

Years later, I altered the pattern for saltwater applications, which proved pure dynamite on several species; namely, bass, blues, weakfish and even fluke. In lieu of employing the tiny dun-colored gimp feathers for wings, taken from the Lady Amherst pheasant, I selected a pair of metallic green, black-rimmed plumage from below the neck of the bird. Those lustrous feathers lend an iridescent color ranging from insect-like to killifish-like hues representative of anything from hoppers to mummichogs, respectively. Bass and blues especially love the Green Grabber.

Recipe for the Green Grabber




Materials:

Hook: Owner hook #2/0 (turned-up eye)
Thread: Danville's Flat-Waxed Nylon – black
Body: single two-ply strand of blue-gray or brown-gray (dun-colored) yarn
Tail: several dun-colored hen hackle fibers (matchstick thin)
Wings: two (2) metallic green, black-rimmed plumage from the Lady Amherst pheasant
Collar: one (1) dun-colored hen hackle
Epoxy: two-part 5-minute Z-Poxy
Sally Hanson Hard As Nails-With Nylon (clear nail polish)

Procedure:

1. Atop the bend of the hook, tie in several hen hackle fibers to form the tail.
2. Tie in the strands of yarn and form a cigar-shaped body, leaving one-eighth inch behind the eye of the hook.
3. For the wings, place and tie in the two metallic green feathers, one atop the other, at the head of the tapered body.
4. Tie in a dun-colored hen hackle, winding it thrice around the shank, directly behind the eye of the hook.
5. Trim and whip-finish.
6. Brushing back the collar with the tips of your fingers to hold the fibers out of harm's way, apply pinpoints of epoxy to the thread wraps (a little goes a long way). Allow the thread to absorb the chemical.
7. For a glossy head finish after the epoxy has thoroughly dried (wait until the next day), carefully coat the head with clear nail polish.

If your budget allows, I suggest purchasing a full skin of the Lady Amherst pheasant so that you will have on hand a versatile assortment of feathers to cover both freshwater and saltwater applications. Also, you will have a wide range of sizes from which to choose in order to properly accommodate hook/hackle proportion. You will save money in the long run. In a dusty corner of an upstate tackle shop, I found a Rumpf & Son, Lady Amherst pheasant skin (no tail), #1 quality, for $10. I usually pay $9 for just a neck. Seek and you shall find bargains.

Presently, Flanders Bay, Reeves Bay and Great Peconic Bay are producing schoolie bass along with an occasional keeper. Tie my version of the saltwater Gimp fly and have some fun. Those around you will be green with envy. I've been most productive in the early morning and late evening hours. Stripped through the suds, the Green Grabber will become toothpick thin. Allow the fly to relax and open, strip it a foot, let it settle, strip it, relax it—and stand by.





April 12, 2012

Donna's First "Reel" Deal on a Fly Rod

by Bob Banfelder

Donna and I moved from Queens to the East End of Long Island in 1990. Having made the transition to saltwater fly-fishing after decades of freshwater angling, we eventually worked our area bays: Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, Hog Neck Bay, Noyack Bay, Southold Bay, Gardiners Bay and beyond. Starting out one fine morning in June, we took a canoe along the southeast corner of Reeves Bay. I paddled the 16-footer along the bank then put a 9-foot #8-weight Scott rod with a Super 8 Abel reel spooled with 100 feet of Teeny TS 350 F/S 8-10 weight into Donna's anxious hands. Anxious because she could now cast well enough to send that line out to distances of forty to fifty feet, thanks to a fabulous fly line (especially for beginners) as well as casting lessons from Dan Eng, our venerable Committee Chair fly-fishing skills instructor from Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. Dan has worked with Donna and me at pre-meeting sessions then later with our son, Jason. Dan has improved our casting distance twofold. We are very fortunate to have such talented folks such as Dan in our midst.

Early on I had tried several fly lines on the market and became sold on Teeny Line. Teeny fly lines offer a wide range of choices. Their T-Series and TS-Series in 24 and 30 feet, respectively, are fine places to start. Teeny's magic is in the marriage of a floating line matched to a sinking taper. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine its perfect balancing point so there is no guesswork in where and when to draw and shoot the line. When both colors extend approximately one foot past the front guide, it's magic time. And talk about cutting through the wind, it's simply a breeze. I'd sail an imitation out to sixty feet. Later, with practice, practice, practice, I could occasionally add another twenty or so feet. But at that point in time, Donna was holding the goods; I had paddle in hand.

After a dozen casts toward the shoreline, Donna spotted a swirl several yards to the east, excitedly instructing me to "turn this yellow banana around" so that she didn't have to swing her body about. In all candor, it is a tippy canoe, designed for cruising, not a solid fishing platform by any stretch of those sixteen precarious feet—not like our sturdy Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler sit-on-top kayak, which we later purchased, designed, however, for a single soul.

Two false casts and Donna sent the 6-inch bunker imitation several feet just past a second swirl. The first 30-foot green section of 7-ips sinking line hit the water and immediately disappeared. Seconds later, on a moderate retrieve, five yards or so of red floating line tore across the bow, pulling the boat toward a piling as Donna set the hook. The drag on an Abel is about as able as you're going to get. Smooth as silk or satin. The 8-weight Scott rod performed flawlessly. For newcomers, I would recommend the Teeny T-300, 24-foot length shooting head because it's easier to handle.



"Rod up! Let him run," I hollered.
"He's making a beeline for the piling," she protested.
"Good. Maybe it'll knock itself out," I half-kidded. "He's turning."
"So is the boat," she brayed.

I knew Donna had a good fish. "Stay with him," I commanded, like she really had a choice. She fought the denizen for a good two minutes.

"I can't hold him much longer."
"Oh, but you can and you will or there won't be any supper for you."
"Then we'll go to Danowski's or Gallo's fish market," she threatened.
"That's not exactly what I meant."
"Oh, my God!"

The big fish jumped . . . bigger than the cocktail blues she'd been catching on spin-casting lures; bigger than the striper shorts, too. It wasn't a monster, but I thought it would break five pounds, that is, if it didn't first break the leader. The fish jumped again. A good-size blue. Slowly, Donna was gaining back line.

"The fish is getting tired," I offered encouragingly.
"Then it's winning the battle because I'm getting exhausted. Correction. I am exhausted."
"Look! It's on his side."
"Look. I'm practically on my knees."
I had the net in hand. "Maneuver the fish to the center—I can't reach it from here."
"I can't."
"Yes, you can."
"I hate you!"
"Take it out on the fish when you land it. I've got the net. Extend your arm like an outrigger, not straight out. Do it!"

The denizen splashed and thrashed then dove deep for a final time before Donna had it alongside the boat. I scooped it up neatly into the net. The fish flapped and pounded the floor of the canoe to the powerful pounding of Donna's heart, I'm sure. A beautiful 27 inch, 5¾ pound blue.



"Do we return him to the water or keep him?" I asked.
"My first real saltwater fish on a fly rod? Are you crazy? I caught it. I'll cook it. And we'll eat it tonight."
"Would you like to fillet it, too?"
"No, that's your department."
"Happy?"
"I'm hooked. When can we do this again?"
"How about right now?"
"I need a breather. How about tomorrow morning?"
"Tomorrow it is."
"I love you!" she exclaimed with a smile.
"A moment ago you hated me, you said."
"I did not."
"You did, and I'm going to put it in a story one day."
"I'll deny it. Furthermore, no one will believe you."
"Sure they will. All fishwives are liars, everybody knows."
"You just reminded me."
"Of what?"
"We've got to take a picture for proof and posterity just as soon as we get back."
"Done. Are you going to make my favorite bluefish recipe tonight?"
"Done," she swore.

And she did. Here it is. The great irony being that Donna truly hated bluefish and anchovies before landing this marvelous recipe.

This recipe was given to us by, and in memory of, Bev and Bob Johnsen. It's a dynamite recipe for any oily fish.

Bluefish Bake


Ingredients:

2 bluefish fillets (cocktail blues or larger are fine; amounts below are for the larger fillets—adjust accordingly).
5 flat anchovies in oil
1½ cups of Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil

Procedure:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place fillets in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the fillets.

2. Bake the fish for about 15 minutes or until flaky.

3. While the fish is baking, mash the anchovies with a mortar and pestle and add the anchovies to the mayonnaise, mixing well.

4. Remove fish from oven. Switch oven to Hi broil setting.

5. Smear the mayo/anchovy mixture over the top of the fillets. Place under broiler. The mayo/anchovy mixture will begin to bubble. Remove the fillets from the oven when the mixture is golden brown.

Bon appétit.

Note: Presently, our bays close to home (Reeves and Flanders), are loaded with bunker and schoolies. We're having loads of fun with fly, spin and bait casting outfits. Bluefish, I'm sure, are right behind.



2017 Noreast Media, LLC.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.