Fish With Glass
I decided to fish fiberglass Sunday and pieced together the 6 pieces of my Longfellow Trail rod. I attached a Martin Classic reel spooled with F5WF Cortland Sylk Line. The rod is tip heavy as expected with the many ferrules but isn’t too awful bad. I knew it would get some getting used to but it’s always more fun fighting fish on 'glass' instead of graphite.
I got my vest on and was just closing the hatch when Jim pulled up in his truck. We talked as I waited for him to get his gear on. After that he headed down the trail to the right of the small creek and I crossed the bridge and through the brushy forest downstream. The small creek was in great condition. Usually it runs clear and low so as the trout can see you and are harder to catch. Today the water is tinted with an olive cast and only enough visibility to see the darkness of the rocks or obstructions beneath. It flows with good height that should bring the undercut bank holding trout out in the main flow of water looking for food.
After crossing the creek I start to nymph fish and within minutes I snag bottom. With a quick rising tug, up creek with a sidearm motion, the line frees and catapults behind me. I turn to see, from the 4 feet of tapered leader, about 2 feet of 5X tippet and a foot and a half of 6X tippet in a drunken spider web looking maze, intertwined around a prickly bush. My black stonefly nymph is caught in the middle and I stand there just waiting for a roaming spider to show up and try to eat it. I wasn’t in the mood to untangle the mess. I clipped off the nymph and tangled tippet. I wound the tippet around my fingers and than stuffed it in my cigar butt pocket inside my vest. I retied on fresh 5X and 6X tippet and tried again.
Within 5 minutes later I’m drifting two nymphs along a nice stretch of water that was split from the main stem by the island I stood on. After the end of the drift I loop the line, through the air, up creek for another drift through. It was too late by the time I seen the scraggly thin limb that branched out over the far higher bank. I watched as my lengths of 5X and 6x tippet twisted and spun on the branchy limb. My dark hare’s ear and light hare’s ear nymphs dangled from the mess almost touching each other. After a few words of disgust, I had a choice to make.
1. I can lay the rod down, go up creek to cross and than follow the path and undo the mess.
2. Pull the fly line until whatever breaks first, happens.
3. Clip the tapered leader off and go get a graphite rod!
I pulled the fly line until the tippet broke at the knot near the tapered leader. I looked and noticed the 2 nymphs were still dangling from the swinging branch. I walked up creek and crossed to the far bank. Up on the trail I walked to the small tree where its limb held my nymphs hostage. Reaching out I bent the limber limb until I was able to reach and snap off the branch. I clipped off the nymphs, rolled the tippet and put it in my vest pocket with the other mess. I was going to make sure that the fiberglass rod was not going to burden me on this excursion. I sat down and knotted together a tapered tippet, to the remaining leader, of 4X and 5X. It was streamer time! I tied on a fast-snap to make changing streamers more easily. I twisted on a small piece of lead strip about a foot and a half above the streamer. It was easier to control and cast the weighted streamer than the light weight nymphs and lighter tippet. Besides that I would much rather streamer fish than nymph fish any day of the week!
I continued on with less interfering hazards. I’d dead drift the woolly bugger through deeper holes. In the long open stretches I’d cast a triple threat or bugger against the far bank and let it swing downstream before slowly stripping them in. It took awhile for the first take. I was bringing the line in for my next cast when I felt a grab and splash on the surface. I already had the rod high on the backswing and the trout didn’t get enough of the imitation to get hooked successfully.
I was down creek a bit when I looked up stream and saw Jim and friend, Mark, drifting nymphs in the same run. Soon they came down and joined me and we fished a bit before they headed down creek. Mark caught one trout on a streamer in front of me before moving on. I really didn’t expect to catch anything once Jim nymph fished down in front of me. I did however begin to think that just maybe there might be a dumb trout that avoided getting stepped on that might take a streamer.
With a good flex in the 'glass' rod I lobbed the bugger in the slow pool behind the half submerged log. Holding the rod above the faster run of water in front of me, the bugger sank deep before the push of water caught my Sylk line enough to swing the bugger below. Just before the line straightened on the swing I felt the tug as if the trout took the bugger with a swiping grab. My line hand clinched the line tight enough to set the hook before line pulled through my fingers. The slack line, between my reel and fingers, disappeared instantly and the Martin reel chattered as the spool spun. He fought within the deep pool, below the fast surface current, with hesitating jerks and turns. Jim commented it might be a brown, where he stood watching the excitement from high on the bank. The burnt orange ’glass’ rod, with all the metal ferrules, bowed in a wide arc into the butt section so I was careful not to get the rod in a compromising position. A fiberglass rod makes most fighting fish bigger than what they are but there was no question that this trout was good size for this small creek.
As the rod started to raise and open its arc the trout surfaced. The noon day sun enhanced his pinkish streak across its lateral line against his olive skin. Black spots covered the long length of his body. He turned deep in an instant, the rod flexed downward and I let tensioned line though my fingers again as my right hand firmly gripped the cork handle with wrist locked. Mark commented about the rainbow had to be a holdover for sometime because of how dark his body was. After more of a battle the heavy weight finally started to tire under the rod pressure and strong undercurrent. Nearer to shore I held the rod high in a big arc and net gloved the muscular body of the rainbow. The bugger was stuck fast in the trout’s lower jaw but with a little help with my hemostats he was free from the hook and released unharmed to give someone else a good battle.
After Mark and Jim headed down creek ahead of me I lit up a Don Thomas stogie and I slowly fished my way down. I worked the far banks with a swinging streamer or bugger. On occasion I was rewarded with my patience and skillful placement of the streamers. My rhythm, with the slow action and rebound of the ‘glass’ rod was now more familiar than earlier. Most of my casts were a sweeping sidearm cast. At an upward angle, I swung my arm back behind me some and waited for the length of line to follow behind with the flexing rod. On the forward cast I stopped my elbow near my side until the line looped forward before ending the sweep of my forearm.
Roll casts were more forceful with the wimpy tip than my graphite’s. In time I got used to it and was able to drop the bugger pretty much where I wanted. A few more trout, one being a good fighting brown, came to hand before Jim and Mark appeared from downstream.
I watched as Mark crouched down on shore at a deep hole near a bend in the creek. He was drifting his imitation beneath. He jumped up and yelled to Jim he had a big trout on. His long fly rod arced like a candy cane and was flexing up and down as the trout tussled below. I reeled in and was wading towards him wanting to get a picture. I saw the big brown trout rise to the surface and tumble exposing his dark golden color belly. I was getting nearer when Mark’s rod shot up without resistance. It was a time of frustration as the big trout got away. Mark was pretty well disgusted but hey…….
They joined back up with me and we headed back up creek. Jim and Mark had found some hungry trout and appeared to have a lot of action downstream. When we reached pretty far up creek, towards the vehicles, there was no one else fishing like there was earlier. Mark stood on the bank casting near an exposed tree limb that stuck up out of the water. He started catching or missing trout often enough it was impressive to watch. I cautiously weaved my way through the brush and quietly stepped into the water trying not to disturb it. Jim made a stand up creek from me and began to drift nymphs in the run of water emptying into the narrow stretch of water nearer to me. I started casting my bugger out towards the far back and let it drift some before slowly stripping in. We were all hooking up now and then to the hungry rainbows. Jim nailed one that gave him a good fight and netted it successfully. It wasn’t long before Mark said good-bye and left. Jim walked over to where Mark was fishing and proceeded on catching a couple more trout. I slowly waded my way, fishing a bugger, down towards the area they were fishing. Jim finally gave up and headed to his truck.
In the mean time….
The trout grabbed the bugger on the strip in and wasn’t about to let go. As I applied pressure to force him too me he had other ideas. When he turned towards the far bank I instantly knew this trout wasn’t a light weight. The water swirled above him as he swam and bowed the ‘glass‘ rod in a good sturdy arc. The water was maybe two or three feet deep at the most, not wide in this section, but it was a long straight stretch of creek. He took advantage and turned downstream like a stage coach escaping from bandits. The fiberglass rod shook and flexed with the big trout’s turns and dives as the Classic Martin clicked rapidly.
“I got a big'n” I called out to Jim who was at his vehicle by now.
The trout stripped out a long length of fly line before he quit his long run. I held the rod at an angle upstream trying to force him to me. The branches behind me kept me from putting side pressure on the trout. He started to fight his way towards me tugging on the line as the ‘glass’ rod dampened every thrust. He kept his distance towards the middle of the creek the nearer he came upstream. I was getting ready with my hand in my glove net when I felt more weighty pressure on my right wrist. He pulled downwards and took off down creek again. I let line strip through my finger and the cork grip I was trying to keep tension on. He got to about half the distance as before, before I got him turned around. A few more jerks and pulls flexed the rod but I needn’t give him any more line. I got him closer and grabbed him by the neck of his tail. Jim stood near the bridge as I lifted the lengthy rainbow for him to see.
After that Jim left and I continued to fish for about another half hour with only one more hook up. We disturbed the water enough and the fish were well aware of it.
At the minivan I drank a beer as I took off my fishing clothes and dressed in more favorable clothes to drive home in.
As I drove down rte. 8 I replayed some of the excitement in my head while smoking a La Aurora Cameroon cigar. I wondered how old the fiberglass rod was that I was fishing with. It was given to me by a friend sometime ago. At no time, while fighting those bigger rainbows, did I ever have second thoughts about the ability of the fiberglass rod, no matter how old it is.
What was it I read on The Fiberglass Manifesto blog?
Walk with cane
Write with graphite
Fish with Glass