Tipping the ‘Glass’
I decided to fish with my fiberglass rods for this year’s birthday. Just trying something different, I was hoping it could turn out to be something special that I could always remember as part of another fly fishing birthday excursion.
There was a morning April chill when I crawled out of my sleeping bag to start the van to warm things up. The clock on the, AM only, radio showed 7:30 as the 318 Dodge engine came to life. No matter, it was Wednesday and I had no one to contend with. I opened the side van doors and the sound of creek water tumbling over rocks made the forest morning more pleasant. There’s nothing like waking to the clean air and pure sounds of the Allegheny National Forest. I put the single Coleman burner on a sawed off stump, filled the tea pot and got the flame going. While the water heated up I started dressing for the morning temperature.
The kettle whistled and pressured steam blew out the spout hole just at the right time. The hot steamed mixed with the cold air causing a visual steam engine smoke effect. I had just gotten my fishing clothes on, gear together and set the breakfast table. I made myself a cup of tea and enjoyed breakfast in my nice warm van.
The morning choice
Trail-Pack 6 piece 5wt fiberglass rod. (Restored by Jack)
Trail-Pack 6 piece 5wt fiberglass rod. (Restored by Jack)
Just out from camp, on the second cast, into the very slow moving pool, produced a strike but I wasn’t expecting anything to hit the bunny leech so quickly. I thought I had a good enough view in the three feet of gin clear water but the trout struck at the swinging leech just at the time my vision was impaired by glare. They’ll do that sometimes, you know?
I didn’t get any strikes in the millstone shallow riffles as I slowly worked my way downstream. I eventually came upon a stout older gent with an 11 foot fly rod, neoprene chest waders, standing in water just below his knees. After he told me that a few fish were rising in the pool he was casting into, that was all it took to get me psyched for some dry fly action on the ‘red glass’ rod. I slowly waded to the opposite bank and observed my situation. The sun was still below the tall hemlocks and the blossoming bank-side tree on the opposite bank casting a full shadow over the wide semi-slow current moving pool. I had been roll casting with 4x 7 foot tapered leader. I knew this was too short for a clear day and clear water conditions. I knotted on a piece of 5x to the leader and a longer section of 7x to that. I might have got away with 6x but with the sun on the rise and the clear water I was afraid some of the trout would be line shy to the thicker tippet. I started with a #18 blue dun as I watched more than a few trout rise throughout the pool area.
Overhand casting the 5 piece fiberglass rod felt like a beast but it casted the small flies well and with good distance even though I was using double taper line.
I could make this morning adventure story telling long but the pictures show some of the nice brook trout I caught on a variety of #20‘s, # 18’s and #16’s dries. These are just a few of many I hooked into on dries stemming from blue duns, BWO’s, Adams, Adams parachutes etc. I missed quite a few but I blame this on the small hook sizes I was using and not slower reactions due to old age.
I went back to the van for an afternoon break. I wasn’t sure what time it was because when I’m catching fish I don’t pay attention to time anyway. I had nowhere to be anyhow and I was where I wanted to be at the time being.
To a fly caster the wind will hamper ones casting ability, but when you’re fishing in clear water with slow current, the riffling that the breeze makes on the surface is a blessing in disguise.
With the sun beaming down the riffling surface should hide the leader and tippet well. The fish won’t have as good of a look at the drifting fly so I felt with the breeze now and then; my odds were more favorable with than without. When the breeze would stop I was able to cast cross creek under the blossoming tree where I would get a rise more often than not. It was a far cast and much easier with the other rod but with concentration and correct timing I was able to get the dry there. I also was able to reach the far tail out where there was more surface activity than nearer to me. When a breeze kicked up I cast nearer and occasionally upstream, where again, the line shy trout might not notice my line above their heads. All in all I casted in the direction the wind permitted and continued to make trout rise throughout the afternoon.
Casting the 3wt Diamonglass was quite a bit different and more relaxing than the 5 piece. I could feel the rod load more distinctly with the weight of the Sylk line and leader on my backstroke. The slow action had me stopping longer than I normally do but it felt good. On the forward cast the rod gradually moved forward with my gentle arm speed. The limp Sylk line looped forward with the leader and dry following. I watched as the fly gently fell to the water like a natural mayfly as the straightened line fell quietly upon the water surface. Quite often a fish would rise to the fly as soon as the fly hit the water almost as if they could see the fly gently falling to the water.
Here's a few caught on the Diamonglass rod
Another few hours of dry fly fishing produced many more fish and fatigue in the one year older joints. My casting shoulder and arm were felling heavy. I was also feeling the lower back aches of ’Loomis Syndrome’ (inside joke) and my finger joints were feeling the dry aches from arthritis. I was plum tiring out! For giggles I tied on a latex caddis and casted out to visible trout. They attacked it like woman to a chocolate buffet dessert table. It wasn’t challenging but I was just curious. I left the pool and fished the riffles, below the pool, swinging a bunny leech pattern. A couple of quick strikes produced fighting fish but the stirring activity soon made the other trout wary of my presence.
I climbed the opposite bank and headed towards the van, leaving the pool fisherman-less, quiet and with still a few subtle rises.
At the van I laid the rod upon the back bed. I took a long drink of cooler cold tea and made a sandwich. The clock showed 4:05. Wow, what an afternoon! I pulled out and headed for Clear Creek State Park for the rest of the evening.
Still my favorite 'glass' rod. Maybe because we're old pals from being together for so long. I like the short Wonderod for small creeks but not affraid to take it to tame bigger fish in bigger streams. Tuesday evening, after work, we went down to Mill Creek for a pre-warm-up before my birthday. We caught a few brook trout in the low water conditions. I decided to end the evening with another visit with my pal.
I pulled into the parking area amongst 3 other vehicle. I lit a cigar and headed to the swimming area for a look see. An older gent was casting to visible trout in the slow creek channel that led to the swimming area. He was stripping a streamer with no results. I met another older fellow at the wooden crossing bridge holding a new looking fly rod. He said there were trout about but they weren’t having any luck.
“I think they want bait” he commented.
I crossed the bridge to have a look see at all them trout. The water was very clear making the trout easy enough to see suspending above the muddy bottom. There was practically no surface current as a 3 foot branch slowly floated atop. The guy across stream continued his efforts, casting and stripping in a streamer, with no results or questionable followers.
Back across the bridge I came across the fellow with the new looking fly rod again. He sat tying on a caddis dry to his long leader.
“well, might as well get your rod and try fishing” he suggested
“ That’s what I was planning to do” I replied.
I took out the 5wt. Shakespear Glass rod and pieced the two sections together. I lit up a cigar and with my fly gear on again, headed for the water. I crossed the bridge and stood upon the bank looking upon the conditions. I tied on a good length of 6x fluorocarbon and tied on a #12 latex caddis to this. I roll casted out to the trout and the ones nearest the dropping caddis and line scattered like cockroaches upon being surprised with daylight. A few trout, away from the scene, swam over to see what all the commotion was. One took the chance and mouthed the slowly sinking caddis. I whipped back the long length of line, the line tensioned and the rod flexed forward, for about a second or two. The line quickly went limp and the rod tip straightened as I watched the hooked fish take off with my caddis. Bad knot tying, grrr!
After the old guys left I re-crossed the bridge to the more open casting area. Playing around for another hour or so I hooked into 4 fish, one actually being a brown trout. The going was real slow and the boringness of it all got the best of me. I tipped my ‘glass’ rod towards the water and headed back to the van.
At the van I took the time to pack away the two fiberglass rods and dressed into my riding clothes. I lit up my last Macanudo Ascot as I drove around the parking lot. Out on rte. 949 headed towards home.
What a great Birthday memory, I thought, ‘one to never forget’
“Something special!” that’s for sure.