Friday, July 24, 2015

T-Glass and Wild Trout

T-Glass and Wild Trout

 I never felt I had a need for a 2 weight fly rod. Sometimes I think a 2 weight is just something that would be fun to use but do I really need one just to say I own one and used one? I mean, how many times will I really use it? I got a Hardy Demon 7’ 3 weight for small streams. It has a quick action I can cast with just my wrist when I don’t have room behind me. For more open small creeks I have a 7’ Diamonglass 3 weight. Its action is slow as molasses but playing a trout on glass is always fun and enjoyable. Now, if someone would give me one to sample with an option to buy at a discount price, I’d take him up on the sampling but it would have to be pretty impressive for me to buy.
 A friend just so happen to hand me a demo Wright & McGill Generation II S-Curve 7’ 2 weight. He said if I like it he would sell it to me at a discount price. I had it for a few days and read the literature that was still zip tied to the rod tube cap. In short it combines what they call T-Glass with high-density graphite as the core of the blank. It is then wrapped by carbon tape and high-density graphite to eliminate cracking and to increase breaking strength. Not getting into to it any deeper it sounds like a Glass rod with carbon and graphite combined! I wasn’t sure what the action of the rod was going to feel like, either glass or graphite. I was kind of anxious to find out though.
 My plan for the day was to hit a small mountain creek. I was planning on dry fly fishing so I wouldn’t need much gear. A pair of hip boots, a small chest pack, cigars, and the rod and reel was all I needed for a few hours.
 I didn’t have 2 weight line but I did have 444dt 3 weight line on a small graphite reel I figured would work just fine. I packed my gear in the Harley saddlebags, fired up the V-twin and I was on my way.

Didn’t need much and it fit all on the Harley

 I started walking down a trail figuring I’d fish my way up creek towards my bike. A short ways down creek I met up with a fellow. He had a spinning rod in his hand and we carried on a short conversation. He had been fishing from the bridge down creek for the past hour. He said he caught quite a few stock trout and a few small wild brook trout. I asked him what he was using and he said “maggots.” After hearing that he’d been fishing along the creek I plan on fishing my excitement started to diminish some. I wasn’t going to go back to my bike and change cloth and go somewhere else. I had to face the fact that the creek had been gone over recently and the trout might not be so responsive. As I walked along the path I was just hoping there were a few wild brookies that got undisturbed and might be looking up for some food.
 I stopped at a nice looking section of water and knotted on a #16 Adam dry fly. I lit up an Ave Maria cigar to bide my time and hoped for the best.
 The sun was shining in the blue, white puffy clouded, sky. The air was cool in the shade but the sun was warm when I stepped out of the shadows. The water ran mountain stream clear, good depth and cold to touch. Deeper sections were deep enough that the bottom rocks and stones weren’t visible. Long green stemmed grass bordered the banks in open areas with occasional laurel overhanging the banks. Under the canopy of forest, trees lines the creek and there were many more hazards such as tangling branches and droopy pine boughs. It was a gorgeous summer day!

Getting into the faster riffles I felt the small Adam wasn’t the easiest to see so I changed to a humpy. I tried a beetle in slower waters near overhangs but for at least an hour I couldn’t get anything to rise. I figured the other fisherman must have done a good job catching and spooking the fish. I finally tied on a #14 parachute Adams and continued on.
 I had a lot of practice by now casting and controlling the T-glass. It wasn’t as slow or flexible as my Diamond glass. It did flex well near the middle of the rod but had a quick reflex on the forward cast. It was in no way as fast as the Hardy though. I have to say it had a good feel to it. I was able to sidearm my casts without much of a line drop as with a slow action rod. When I would cast straight up creek it had plenty of power though I didn’t need to make long up creek casts.

 I side armed a smooth cast up creek just behind some branches that tipped the water surface. I held the rod high and slowly took in line as the dry fly drifted towards the laurel. It passed beneath and I watched it as it passed by me on the far side. I was in the shadows only up to my ankles off the bank. The dry fly started to bounce a little in the current when a surface splash disturbed it. I quickly raised the rod and took in line. The wild trout darted playfully within the current trying to shake the hook out of its mouth. After an hour of nothingness my first trout came to hand. A beautiful wild brook trout. 

 I was hoping I would find more hungry trout but for another hour I didn’t manage to raise another trout. Even so, the scenery was great and I was enjoying myself in the peaceful wilderness.
 When I got back to my cycle I wasn’t ready to give up but I hated to think of breaking everything down and changing clothes just to drive down creek and reassemble and dress again.

After contemplating I broke the rod down to two sections and put it in the saddlebags. I took the small chest pack and put this in the leather tour pack. I didn’t need to drive too far to where I wanted to fish down creek so with my hip boots still on I straddled the cycle seat and fired the Harley up. Keeping my hip boots away from the mufflers I drove down creek to the big dirt/gravel parking area.

 I knew this section gets hit hard during the first couple of months of the regular trout season opener. I knew there would be a few wild trout about though and was hoping they weren’t disturbed as of yet.
 I was right; it wasn’t long before I caught a small brookie in the slower current along the far bank.

  When I came to the falls I circled around and cast my dry Adam up into the foam. Continuing casting I got a trout to rise into vision but not to the surface. After a few more casts he gave up and disappeared into the deep darkness. I cast the Adam near the far bank but didn’t get any sign of a take. I decided to switch to a beetle pattern.
 Cast after cast towards the bubbling falls I tried to get a fish from beneath to rise. My one cast was ¾ the way across stream just shy of the foam. It drifted slowly and I saw the fish rise, look and take the beetle imitation. A quick rising sweep of the rod and it flexed downward some with the hooked fish. I watched as the trout scurried about but was no match for the T-glass and soon I had him in my palm. I was surprised by the small palomino trout.

 I fished down creek a short piece before tying on the Adam dry fly again. Letting the dry drift down creek with the riffles a trout splashed at the dry and my reflexes was quick enough to get a hold on him. I could tell he was a bit more powerful and heavier than the other trout. I kept the rod angled down as I brought him up creek towards me. It looked like this stocked trout had avoided getting itself into trouble with other fishermen and finally got fooled. The slim brown trout was fine enough to end the day with.

 I had only caught 4 trout for the few hours I spent but the time out was surely enjoyable. The 2 weight far exceeded my expectations with its performance. In other words, I was adding this to my collection.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Kayak review

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Kayak Review

  I started seriously looking at kayaks for about 3 weeks. I knew I wanted a 10’ kayak that was light and could fit into my conversion van with ease. I wanted to limit my purchase to under $300.00. I wanted one with rod holders and more concerned about stability than speed. I learned about hull design which gave me knowledge in speed, stability and tracking. I found there were a lot of brands, makes and models in this price range but not all were equipped for fishing.
 I read reviews on different models and found most reviews were first time buyers and first time in a kayak. Though the reviews were helpful for a new comer I turned to friends that have been kayaking for a while for some experience advice.
 There are sit-in and sit-on kayaks. At first I was interested with a sit-in but after the more I read and listened to advice I felt a sit-on would be more to my liking for fishing.
 First there is more leg freedom out in the open compared to a sit-in. I also found there is more open space for readily available angling gear than to reach inside a sit-in. after 3 or four visits to the store I decided on the Sun Dolphin 10 SS angler Kayak.
 This kayak is 30” at the beam which I felt would give me more stability than a 28” beam and I felt a 32” beam would be more than I needed and take up a little more space in the van. With a non-angler kayak, which would have been less expensive, I figured by the time I added rod holders it would have cost me just as much or more than a kayak with ones already installed. I also liked the swivel rod holder up front for ease of reaching.

 Buying the sit-on I learned about scuppers. These are drain holes that go through the hull to drain water that enters the kayak from paddling, splashes and rain. I seen reviews that some people silicone these shut or use scupper plugs to keep from getting their butts wet. At the store a couple of long time kayakers told me about scuppers. They also said in any kayak you are bound to get wet. I told them that I'm used to fishing in a float tube with water up to my waist so water on my butt isn’t going to cause any discomfort I’m not used to.
 After getting it home I made some provisions to adapt to my fly fishing. The swivel rod holder, which mounts between my knees, is made for long handled fishing rods. To keep the fly rod in place I added a Velcro strip that will secure the rod handle above the reel. I also cushioned the inside of the plastic holder with a strip of the softer side of Velcro. This keeps the plastic from marring the rod butt, reel lock hardware, seat and cork grip. I can easily unzip the Velcro to pick the rod up out of the holder.

 The cup holder, in front, is oversized. With a little sewing I attached an elastic cloth to a strip of wool to put around a bottle. This is within ease of reaching for any fly I would need as well as drying flies out. I also stuck the insert of a fly box to the center console for my streamers. I found the circular sealed compartment up front holds quite a few robust cigars and a lighter.

Other than that everything else with the kayak was standard.
1. 2 flush mount rod/net holders behind the seat. (I sealed where they are mounted with silicone)
2. A side pocket for small to medium sized fly boxes on each side.
3. Paddle holder on either side. A must!
4. An open compartment, with bungee cords, in the front of the kayak for my waist pack full of more fly fishing stuff.
5. Center console bottle holder.
6. Adjustable foot rests.
7. Thigh pads.
8. Carry handles front and back. (Kayak is rated at 44 lbs, 250 lbs capacity.)
9. A removable P.A.C., (Portable Accessory Carrier), in the rear of the kayak. Nice feature!

 10. A padded back rest.

One of the most complaints of a kayak, in general, I’ve read is the poor uncomfortable seat. Whether it is the plastic floor or a padded seat that comes with the unit just about everyone complained about it. Because of this I wasn’t too concerned if the kayak had a seat pad or not. I knew it would get wet any how. For now I use bubble wrap packing material. It is more comfortable than the plastic seat and drains water off well.

 My first time out I was excited but not over confident in my ability to control my first kayak experience. I read about how some kayaks don’t track well and some are tipsy. How some veer right or left while fishing. I am an avid canoeist with many years of experience so I didn’t think steering a kayak would be too difficult. I heard longer kayaks track better than shorter ones so I didn’t know what to expect. Like any canoe, if there isn’t a paddle in the water now and than it isn’t going to track straight down a river. The tipsy part is what concerned me.
 Well, here’s my experience with a couple of hours spent on the water with the Sun Dolphin.
 Tionesta creek was higher and flowing swifter than I would have liked. It wasn’t white water rapids but there was choppy water here and there. The kayak I felt preformed well with a little guiding of a paddle now and then. I did paddle the kayak cross current of the wavy water and didn't have any 'tipsy' problems. With the swift current there wasn’t a place where the kayak was slowly moving to get more than two casts to a good looking area. I did stop a few times, to wade fish, and getting in and out of the kayak was easy.
 Like anything new you got to get used to it. I learned not to be too aggressive in the kayak when paddling and just relax. You don’t want to dig the paddle deep, moving your body and shoulders side to side, while paddling like in a canoe. This is what may cause some people to say their kayak was tipsy. Smooth strokes, in the upright sitting position, are all that are needed. Steering was a breeze. I caught a few trout, about 15”, and a smallmouth bass. Netting them wasn’t a problem even with the short net I had brought along. 
 I got hung up once on the bottom of the creek. I didn’t have any panic attack that the kayak was going to flip with my extra paddling effort up creek against the flow. It wasn’t that easy but I managed to get above the snag and free the streamer.
 Overall I was pleased with the purchase. I got the kayak and paddle for under $300.00. Again, this is my first kayak experience. I’m sure with more water time I will get accustomed to the ‘Yak’ and relax a lot more.  ~doubletaper

You can read my updated review at;
If you highlight the link and  Open Link in new window will bring you to my more experienced review on this kayak.