Yes, all of the above. Im looking forward to the year of the Tiger, my wife and I are celebrating the birth of our first child, Luca. See all the details on his very own blog. I even registered an email address and bought his own domain name along with getting his SSN, and opening up a 529 account. Man, it sure is different being a kid these days. My wife and I have been blessed to be surrounded by many friends and family and little Luca was able to get some nice new toys. Not that he can even enjoy them now, but I guess its the thought that counts. I too have been a good boy and decided to get some new toys as well. First to start the year off right was a trade of the 8′ aluminum pram that I’d modified for stillwater use. I’d picked it up since you rarely see any 8′ aluminums in the market. It was a good enough deal, I figured it would be a nice ultralight pram to haul into those harder to access lakes. It was light but it was also a little flimsy and narrow. I put my dad in it while we fished the Duwamish for Pinks last summer and it worked out great. Dad enjoyed rowing the little boat, I however didn’t care much for it, so decided to part with it. A couple of seasons ago I picked up a used SpringCreek 8′ Hopper 2. It was my first pram, pretty nice, considering the whole package was about $2000 new. I didn’t pay that, but rather a fraction of that, as I tend to only buy stuff used, especially boats, fly rods and fly reels.
It was a great boat, but I didnt’ care for the weight, at over 100 lbs, it was a bit too much to haul around, especially roof topping it. After one season, I got a great deal on the Koffler 10′ whitewater pram, so I decided to sell the Hopper 2. While the Koffler was nice, it was in between sizes. While nice, it had its limitations. The first being heavy, not something that is easily dollied to the waters edge on Lenice or Nunnally and it had to be trailered, not very ferry friendly. Especially when they charge you the extended length rate. The Koffler went away to help fund the purchase of my saltwater boat… So, what did I do for my stillwater solution? I went with a 10′ used Sears welded jon boat, that I modified for double anchored Chironomid fishing. This was a great option, could be thrown in the bed of the truck, lightweight, that I could carry it easily and or dollied. Relatively stable, and very tough. I leave this boat outside, it can take the elements and had done so very well for many years. It shows its age, but it was also very inexpensive, so I’ll hang onto this one for friends and family to use. I had a blast wheeling the Sears boat out to Dash point, and to get in the zone of those Pink Salmon was definitely a plus when my friends on the beach were just out of casting range.
I had the opportunity to pick up another SpringCreek pram, this time an 8′ Classic. Which is supposed to be ‘THE’ best boat for stillwater fishing according to Jim Wheeler, owner of Spring Creek Prams, which is based in Tonasket, WA. First of all its light weight, weighing in at 55 lbs. which solves the access part. Its easily transported, in the back of the truck versus on a trailer, saving money at the ferry dock and also with trailer tabs and gas, its stable, with a wide beam, its quieter and warmer than aluminum, and its got all the add ons that I would put on a boat and then some: Scotty anchor locks, carpet kit, Flush mounted electric motor cable kit and battery box hold area, and an upgraded oversized seat with better back support which is nice when you spend all day on the water. I haven’t had the opportunity to water test her out, but I think I’ll take her out to the nearby boat launch and give her a test spin, just to make sure I am familiar with everything. Hopefully this will be the end to the boat swapping and upgrading. I know what I like and I guess it took a while to ‘get there’ and sometimes things have to come around full circle.
I’ve been going back and forth about reels lately. Fly reels are my weakness, and over the years, I’ve collected many different reels from Hardy, Ross, Galvan, Lamson, Abel, Orvis, Martin, Okuma, Nautilus, Marryat, and Ari T. Hart just to name a few. One thing that is true about reels is that its nice to have the flexibility to have differing lines on spare spools to swap out as fishing conditions change or if suddenly the fishing slows. There are days when you wished you had a type 6 full sink instead of a clear intermediate but you’re stuck with the one line on that one spool. With the average cost of spare spools for my Galvan’s and Lamsons running anywhere from $120-$160 new, its not cheap to outfit my range of lines onto these spools.
A week or so ago, I’d received a catalogue from ‘The Fly Shop’, which is located in Redding, CA. They are a unique shop and seem to very successful in their brand, as not only do they carry well known gear such as Sage and Loomis, but also have branded their own line up of rods and reels. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed a reel that caught my eye. It was the C3LA, I know the website says C4LA, as I think its a typo, but its definitely the C3LA. What intrigued me to this reel was the fact that unlike the first versions into the cartridge realm by Orvis (Rocky Mountain), and STH, they were heavy and the fly fisherman had to deal with weak plastic or plastic composite cassettes. The Hardy Demon is a newcomer to the cartridge reel market within the last few years and I thought about purchasing one of those versus the C3LA, but the cost of the Demon is $375, versus $250 for T.F.S. reel. The Demon is a little heavier, measuring in a 6.91 oz. versus 6.7 oz. Hardly noticeable, but it is a Mid Arbor reel, versus the large arbor of T.F.S. counterpart. Over the years reel manufacturers have come out with the large arbor idea which helps in many ways: less line coiling or memory, faster retrieval rates, more line/backing capacity of the spools/cassettes are among some of the benefits. What also attracted me to this reel was having CNC milled aircraft aluminum used throughout the reel, not only the frame, but also with the cartridges or cassettes as I’ve mentioned. The port holes in the cassettes are supposed to fit over the raised edge of the reel handle and the counterweight balance, and provide a flush and stable fit so that the spool doesn’t spin freely once its all assembled together.
With the cost of the spare aluminum cassettes at $25, its a much more cost effective and reasonable way to fish multiple lines with a quick change of the reel assembly. I also like the fact that its easy to flip the retrieve from left to right hand at a flip of the cassette, something nice to have when a buddy is fishing and his retrieve is opposite yours. Im looking forward to receiving the new reel and four cassettes, it comes with three, and I ordered one more cassette, as I have several lines in which I am going to line up: Full Floater, Full Clear Intermediate, Sink Tip, and the Rio Outbound short. I hope to receive the reel by next Monday, just in time to spool her up and give it the first water test on Pass Lake for the 16th of this month. Hopefully the double new equipment jinx won’t ruin my day on the water. I guess if the reel isn’t to my satisfaction I could always return it, and T.F.S. offers a lifetime warranty on all their rods and reels, which is nice to know. Hopefully they’re in business in 20 years as I plan to hand all my fly fishing collection to my son and other future kids. I just hope that they’ll learn to love fly fishing and appreciate the details in my selection of gear.