IT WAS like sliding into sliding into a favored sweater for the first really cold day in fall.
Back into chill winds down the back of the collar and shoving the drift boat towards the bank, finger cuts from locking down a 50lb butt section and a 15lb tippet, big rods, big water, warm boots and cold coffee and a good buddy on the sticks. Settling into the mental focus you need on the rod, eyes on the fly, seeing come alive under the control of your stripping hand, “swim baby swim” alive but unwell, through as many ambush zones as you can find, waiting for the shadow following, the buttery flash of a drive by or the brick wall stop of an eat.
There was something comfortable coming back into cold weather streamer fishing and the prospects of connecting up to some White River predators. We have a lot of bookings through February but still some really good open dates, don’t let things slip by, or you might miss out. January can be a great month and so too early March and these are much more open.
With most of our crew down on the salty stuff in Louisiana, and sending back way too many cool pictures, I hollered at our mate, resident film auteur and streamer junkie Brian Wise for a little product testing/goofing off with a streamer rod. I really didn’t have much in the way of expectations of fish, despite some nice flows.
First order of business was to check out the new Sage SALT 9’ 8wt as a streamer rod, loaded up with the nice new RIO Outbound Short type 6 _ which basically means the fast sinking front will drop at 6”-7” a second. The two go together like strawberries and cream, just effortless, even with an 8” articulated streamer out there in the breeze. Grass casting the SALT doesn’t give the real story, actually putting it to use reveals how good this rod is, a leap ahead of its predecessor the Xi3, which I chose as my personal streamer stick for a couple of years.
Wise’s summary was “Backbone with feel” and “super light in the hand”. That lightness suckered me into attempting a few things you shouldn’t do with a 330gr shooting head and a big fly in wind: wristy little change of directions on the backhand as though this was a 5wt and a dry fly, and that it actually worked was ridiculous. The downside to all this is now I’m in a quandary over picking up a SALT or a METHOD for the streamer work ahead. (Incidentally the new Sage ACCEL 9’ 8wt is pretty damn fine as well at $600.)
As well as finally getting to spend a day on the water with Mr Wise for entertainment, I also wanted his input on some flies I’ve been playing with. Brian is a damn fine tier as anyone who had watched his videos can attest. He is exceptionally good on streamer technique, having broken down and recreated a phenomenal list of streamer patterns for his video series.
I’ve got a fly which swims damn well, and yesterday at least got eaten by a bunch of fish, but one day doesn’t make a winter. I made the mistake of mentioning the fly on Facebook and got a bunch of recipe/photo requests. Perhaps I’m a little weird but on streamer flies at least I work on the action first, then make it look presentable. It starts with the chassis, hook selection, articulation and weight, then materials and tying technique.
Since this deceiver style fly is using new materials & attachment method, to me at least, these flies are a rough as hessian underpants. Brian’s input was good, and having him exclaiming and giggling over the action was a confidence booster, its nerve-racking letting your new baby out for the first time. And having him hook and loose his biggest fish of the year was awesome and awful at the same time, a very thick Two Foot Plus fish.
Now come the fun, the concept is sound, now lets turn them into real flies, with a flurry of fur, feather and flash and some different color combinations.I get like this in November, Chad will be doing the same, Gabe is tweaking up the streamer he caught some good-uns on in summer, and dreaming of snowy days, big white mouths and yellow sides.
Now there is two months to get it worked out before I’m stacking the boat with the like of Kelly Galloup, Mike Schmidt and co for our Streamer Lovefest on January 31. We shall see