Wednesday, December 16, 2015

W&M Genration II Fly Rod 7' 2 Weight Review

Generation II S-Curve Fly Rod 7’ 2 weight
By Wright & McGill

 Before I go into the story of the first time I used this rod and how I purchased it, I would like to add a few more comments.
 This is one of the most beautiful fly rods I own. From the fancy colored marble rod tube to the matching blank it will catch any fisherman’s eye. I don’t buy my fly fishing gear or flies by the looks only. They have to perform, but I have to admit the 7’ 2 weight looks tempting just to hold.
 I am a traditionalist when it comes to the grip handle and I still admire the cork grip and feel. Seeing the new aged high-density rubber in a half well wasn’t all that impressive but it holds it’s own in handling and comfort. They added a fancy window reel seat that also catches the fly guy’s eye.

  I have bought two other modern Wright & McGill fly rods in the past for my son and his wife. They are extremely happy with them. Having to get a chance to test this one out and see how it performs was a bonus. I most likely would have never bought the rod, I have plenty of light small rods, but after an outing I couldn’t pass it up.
Now for some details and the first outing.

 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, December 14, 2015

Sun Dolphin Kayak Experienced Review

Sun Dolphin Journey Kayak 10 ss review 2
Sit-on Angler Ready

  This is a follow up to my first review as now I had the chance of fishing with it during the summer and fall. I have fished with it in a fast moving trout stream, river, bays along Lake Erie and a bass swamp in the Allegheny National Forest. With this experience I can get into a little more detail of the likes and dislikes.
 From talking to others with kayaks I have learned that the longer the Kayak the better it will track. As far as this Kayak goes it tracks fairly well in current flowing streams. As far as ponds or lakes the front moves quite a bit if you're in a hurry paddling, not so much with an easy pace.
 I used it fishing Presque Isle Bay in Lake Erie as well as a few other bays up that way. It wasn't fun trying to keep the Kayak from drifting around in the open water from the wind. This is where I found an anchor would be needed in windy conditions. When cutting across the entrance/exit of one of the Yacht clubs I had the experience of how well this sit-on kayak would handle the waves. I was a bit nervous of course but knew that the bigger waves I had to point the kayak straight into them for fear of tipping. Turning the Kayak into the wave was quick and easy and I got comfortable enough that the kayak wasn't going to tip over.
 In the swamp I fish for large mouth bass I found a claw hammer was all I needed as an anchor to grab hold of the moss on the bottom of the swamp or in the lily pads. For an anchor I used a wooden handle claw hammer that I simply dropped off the side of the kayak. Once it took hold it kept the kayak pretty steady. I had drilled a hole in the wooden handle and attached my rope to that. The claw hammer head worked great and I never had too much of a problems getting it out. I would tie it off on the seat straps for ease of lifting the hammer if I wanted to just drift a bit. The paddle cords, on each side of the kayak that holds the paddle during transport, was a good spot to hang the claw hammer out of the way when I was moving to a new location. I wouldn't recommend hanging the anchor off the side of the kayak in stream currents though. As far as reaching over a bit to net a fish wasn't a problem and I didn't have any fear of tipping.
 Before I bought this, angler ready, kayak I figured out the cost of a non-angler kayak and what it would cost to fit it with rod holders and other necessities. It was cheaper to just go with the angler ready kayak. The two extra rod holders behind the seat are easy to get to. I actually use the one to hold my net at the ready. The adjustable swivel rod holder in front I found was handy and wouldn't have placed it anywhere else. With my added Velcro strips it held my fly rod steady, secure and out of the way when paddling. The rear removable water tight compartment is handy also. I had built a kayak carrier when I need to travel with the kayak to distant locations and being that the compartment is removable, I was able to fit my kayak hauler in the back securely with the compartment removed.
 There is a bottle holder in front of the seat and holds a bottle firmly and out of the way.
Now for the dislikes.
There is a small cylinder lidded compartment that is in front of the seat as well. It is not water tight and because you will get water inside the kayak it will fill with water. I just use it as a small trash container. It holds the empty granola wrappers, cut leaders/tippets and cigar butts. Just don't forget to empty it after using it.
 I am only 5' 7". I have the foot pads extended all the way forward and for me this is the most relaxing position. I'm not sure this 10' kayak would be suitable for longer legged individuals. Before buying I would suggest sitting in one and get a feel for it.
 I learned about scupper holes which are only in the sit-on Kayaks. These scupper holes go through the hull to the water. Yes, you can put a stick through these holes from inside of the kayak right down inside the water. I suppose these holes are to drain any water should it get inside the kayak. In lakes and ponds I didn't get much water in the kayak but in current moving streams and rivers I'm sure more water will enter through these holes. They do sell scupper plugs that I plan on getting a few for when I use the kayak in mild water conditions.
 Now this brings up the next subject with water getting in the kayak. I will also combine comfort in with this. With the paddling, bringing the anchor in and out of the kayak and at times wet feet when getting into the kayak, you will get water in it. A sponge is a handy thing to take along to squeegee out the excess. As far as comfort goes forget about paying any extra $$ for what some manufacturers claim is a comfortable seat. Fishing all day in a kayak you want a comfortable seat for sure. I found a closed cell foam hot seat is as comfortable and light weight as it's going to get for me. On top of that I place the bubble plastic packing material they use in boxes for fragile merchandise when mailing. This keeps me up off the bottom of the kayak. Since water does enter the kayak, it also keeps me dry for awhile and not sitting in a puddle of water throughout the day.

As far as I'm concerned this Sundolphin 10' Journey  SS angler ready kayak has the features needed and stability to fish out of all day. For my kind of trout/small mouth fishing in large creeks, streams and rivers this sit-on kayak is perfect. It is easy to get in and out of as most of my fishing is done wading the waters anyhow.
 One more thing, with all the times I've taken this out I have yet to had to drain any water out of the enclosed hull. There are drain holes if needed but so far no water has entered. I did seal the rod holders and trash cylinder with silicone before ever taking this to the water to be extra cautious.
 I got the 10' mostly because it fits in my full size van so hauling it isn't a problem. Some kayaks don't feature side paddle holders but I would recommend them, they do come in handy. There is a weight limit so I would pay attention to the recommendations. From what I read, and I can understand, the longer the kayak the better it will track.The wider it is I would imagine the better the stability. There is a chart that will guide you as hull design for more info on speed, tracking and stability that might be worth checking out before purchasing. I don't consider myself an expert by any means and there might be ones better but for the price I paid for this and the use I've had so far I'm well pleased.

My Kayak Dolly
made out of an older golf bag cart.
Ready to bass fish


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday before Buck Season

Sunday before Buck Season

   I was asked to join a couple of friends for the opening day of buck season. Though I got a buck the last two years on the first day camping out alone I do miss the cabin camp life. I decided to give my previous hunting area a rest and join my friends for the next few days. It was going to be nice waking up in a warm cabin bunk in the morning and getting ready to hunt than waking in my cold van and getting ready in cramped cold conditions.
 I got to Keith’s camp around 2:20pm Saturday about a couple hours after Keith arrived from Pittsburgh. We enjoyed leisure conversation, beers and snacks to bide our time. For dinner Keith joined the neighbors next door while I headed to the Kelly for wings and to watch the Penguins hockey game.
 Keith’s camp is pretty much primitive in the way of no phone or TV. There is running water, that comes in from a piped spring, with an inside toilet and hot shower. A wood stove heats the inside and there is electricity. The basics as we refer to it.
 Sunday morning Steve arrived around 9:30am. After he got his gear inside him and Keith decided to go down to the quarry to shoot their rifles and pistols. I on the other hand decided to go trout fishing.
 Across the road and through a small patch of woods is a trout stream. It gets stocked early in the spring for trout season but I have caught a few hold over in the fall and winter that survived the wrath of other fishermen. There was one request before I headed out. Keith asked if I would bring a few back for a snack before dinner. He said he would roast them in foil on the charcoal grille. I couldn’t say no of course but did explain the daily limit, this time of year, was only three. I haven’t eaten trout for some time but trout on the grille seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning sounded pretty tasty.
 I decided to walk up the road and fish my way down creek. I was hoping that by the time I got to the big pool of water, in front of Keith’s camp, I would have three trout that I could throw in a cooler and continue my fishing.
 I walked down the road a piece, dropped through the forest and towards the creek. On the bank I checked out the water conditions and looked down creek at my situation. The water was in great condition and height as far as I was concerned. The water was high enough that should bring the trout out from their low water hiding places and into the middle looking for food. The water was low enough that waist waders were all I needed. The water was clear except for the deeper pockets and shady areas within the shadows of the banks. I looked down creek contemplating the best way to maneuver the waters to fish the more prominent areas where trout should be and when and where to cross. Though I was using a 7’ 6” fly rod I was using about a 9’ leader/tippet because of the clarity. The further back I was up creek the less chance the trout had to see me. This was mainly rainbow waters so I attached a Woolly Bugger and stepped off the bank.
 Slowly the cold creek water chilled my lower extremities. For some reason the air felt a little colder. The creek, from water level, took on a different prospective. What looked like shallow water, from the high bank, was obviously deeper than it looked.
  I pulled line out of the reel and gradually made a few false casts. I landed the bugger against the slow flow of water cross creek. I let it swing down creek before stripping it in. after a few casts a I felt a little more weight might keep the bugger deeper without touching bottom so I added a bit of a lead strip about a foot or so up from my offering.
 I dropped the bugger in shallow riffle near the far bank. I let some line out so the bugger would drop deeper in the deeper pool in which it flowed into. I let the bugger swing as the fly line arced with the current flow. I felt a tug in my line hand as I seen a sharp pull of the floating fly line. I quickly swept the fly rod upstream that set the hook. The fish tugged at the end of the line as the 4 weight got the trout into the net.
  I wasn’t in the water more than 5 minutes and I already had a trout in the net. I had a feeling I was going to catch a few more before Keith’s camp. I unhooked the rainbow and watched it swim out of the net.
 I took out a Churchill from my vest pocket and lit it up. The smoke lingered and than disappeared with the slight breeze. Small birds fluttered in short bursts from bank side brush to bushes. With the stronger gusts of wind I could hear the bare tree branches rattle against one another. Without the breeze it was so quiet I could hear the trickle of a nearby brook, as water dropped over rocks and stones, before entering the creek.

I caught one more trout on the bugger before I switched to a minnow imitation. With the minnow pattern I was starting to get a few more bumps more often.

 Sometimes the trout would strike like it was their first big meal of the day and not knowing when their next meal will be. Other times it was a light tap as if the trout was testing the temptation before committing to eating it.

  Downstream of a narrow section of shallow riffles I saw the water flow into a snag of half submerged branches. Before I even got to fish it I pulled one trout that was hanging around the banks of the shallows. This told me what I believed all along. If the trout were out looking for food they would be in the shallows because the creek water was up.
 From the right bank, upstream, I cast the streamer into the still air. The streamer gradually drifted with the slow current and dropped deeper as the current slowed near the tangle of branches. I brought the rod up creek a bit taking out some of the slack and let it continue to flow with the current. I saw a flash towards the middle of the creek but never felt a take. As the streamer got nearer my side of the bank, down stream, I slowly stripped it towards me. I thought I felt a subtle bump but it could have been the bottom. My next cast I let out the same length of line. The minnow imitation drifted and swung as before. When it got towards my side of the creek, in the slower moving water, I kept the rod tip up a little higher to be sure the streamer wasn’t going to hit bottom. As I stripped it in I saw a trout intensely swimming behind it. I gave the line a sharp short tug as if the minnow was going to make a quick escape. The rainbow darted towards it and took the imitation with a twisting sweep of its mouth and body. I yanked up on the rod and another trout came to the net. 

  By the time I got to the big pool in front of Keith’s camp I had already caught about a half dozen trout with 3 on my hand made stringer. There were two other fishermen, with spinning rods and bait, fishing the deep long section. I walked around the pool, on the opposite bank, and reentered the water around the bend from them. From there I walked up to the camp and dropped the three fish in the cooler.

  The guys weren’t back yet and I figured it only being around 3:00pm. I decided to fish my way down creek for more trout pleasure and headed back to the creek. I never fished down creek from here too far but I was ready to explore. Just after the long pool the water was moving a lot faster as the creek narrowed. I had caught one small trout in the riffling water before I waded around a bend and looked down creek to unfamiliar water.
 The creek had lots of bends and turns so it was hard to tell what I was getting into. I took out the last cigar from my pocket and lit the foot. Again the smoke lingered from the end of the lit stogie.

  Slowly and cautiously I fished my way down creek. I tried not to be so observant by the fish and kept my distance up stream from them. My casts were long and thought out. I caught a few trout before I came to a long slow section of water like I was fishing up creek.

 From the middle of the creek I dropped the minnow pattern near the left bank and let it drift across creek towards the far bank. The water on right side bank didn’t look too deep but there were a few rocks and boulder beneath that looked to be a good spot where trout might be holding. Just upstream, I dropped the streamer in the current and let it drift into the shadows of the far bank. I seen a flash of a trout dart out from the rocks and my line soon went taut. With a quick strip and wrist I set the hook on the hungry trout.

  In the wide slower section of water I had some more fun getting a few more trout to grab my imitation.
 Peeking over a partially submerged boulder I was able to watch a couple trout take my offering as I swam it and drifted it in the pocket of slow water behind it. The biggest trout I caught for the day gave me a good tug of war battle that I ended up succeeding in conquering.
 As the air turned colder and the sun slowly went behind the mountain of trees I decided to head back to camp and enjoy a tasty trout snack with the fellows.