Monday, April 25, 2011

Seven inches of Shut Yo' Mouth!

Last few flies to be tied and shipped north before I head south to Florida for a few days are a set of custom seven inch Voodoo Squatch. This is the Cotton Candy color that has proven itself to be very effective tied in the Voodoo pattern with 3/4" eyes. This is a man fly to be sure! Can't wait to see what these monsters coax out of the deep; perhaps a 30" brown.... We shall see.

-mike schmidt

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yeah...I've been tying...

With the all the rain we have had in central Ohio over the last few weeks the fishable water has been slim to none. While I would have liked to have been out chasing fish it was a good chance for me to stick around the house, without finned distraction, and knock out the backlog of orders I had on the books. To that end I kncoked out quite a few flies this weekend to hit the mail in the morning.

I also had the opportunity to touch base with '1% For the Planet' and confirm my membership for the next year; ACF is member #2171. With the state of the environment in today's world I have no doubt that every little bit of monetary support and awareness helps. Though Anglers Choice Flies is a comparatively small company I am proud to be able to continue to pledge the little I can to environmental causes.

I have seen this shot in a few other locations over the last week, but Adam Peterson's Au Sable beast from last Wednesday is just too nice not to be posted one more time. Another victim of the ACF Cotton Candy, I understand that this big male was boga'd at just over seven pounds before being released back to the flow.

After seeing a compilation shot of some browns on Rebekka Redd's site I got a chance over this weekend to play with a few of my Ohio early season shots from the last month. It was fun going back through some of the pictures and realizing how vividly I recall each fish and fight.

The next few nights will be spent knocking out a few random flies and getting everything packed up. I am headed out early Wednesday with Mrs ACF to New Smyrna Beach; not a fishing trip but I will no doubt wet a line while I am down there. If I get a chance I will get a parting blog posted, othwerwise...catch you in a week!

-mike schmidt

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fishing with Strolis

The second part of the weeklong ACF fishapalooza began last Thursday when I took off at lunch and headed over to the airport to pick up a good buddy Rich Strolis, of Catching Shadows, fresh off his flight out from CT. Rich is a great guy and seemingly guides more than he gets out to fish himself, so I really wanted us to have some success while showing him my central Ohio playground. After a quick stop by the house to drop off some gear and pick up other gear we took off to hit the Mad and chase some browns around. Our target area was a stretch I have not fished in a bit so it was fun to see how it has changed. True to her nickname of 'the Maddening River' she gave up her bites sparingly, but I was able to 'Mufas-ize' an 18" and a 16" fish. We moved a number of other fish with a few that hooked up and then decided they'd had enough and spit the hook. I do believe I will fish her again soon...

After a quick bite and a few Guiness we hit the sack knowing that our wake up call would come early the next day. As the alarm went off I was already eyes open and ready to go. Based on river levels and a few phone calls we decided to head up to the Vermillion to start off the day. We got there to see pretty clear water that was just a bit off color and enough fish around to play with. We walked a long stretch hoping to be able to swing a few flies, though we carried indi rods as well. The highlight of the morning was Rich hooking up on the swing to a big bright fish that took a hard tug and a few rolls before slicing his line for a quick getaway.

The oddity of the morning was a double landed fish. I nymphed through a run and burried my fly deep in the mouth of a drop back male. That guy was having nothing to do with my forceps in his mouth trying to get the fly...a few flops and he popped my line and took off with the fly still in. No big deal I figured as the fish was pretty beat up and not really picture material anyway despite being pretty girthy. About ten minutes later Rich yelled up 'Fish On' so I headed down to help out and found that he had his egg buried right next to my fly! Both flies removed, along with a third, from the mouth of this active dude and away he went.

Lunchtime hit and we took off to head east across the Alley. We stopped at my favorite river and found that it was super low and gin clear, but we decided to take a stroll anyway as it is so scenic. We did see a few fish but there was no getting near them, and the few spots in that stretch with nice dark slots were already manned upon our arrival. Wonder how wet wading in jeans worked out for that one family...brrrr... We finished off the evening with a long walk swinging flies on Conneaut before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning saw us hitting Elk despite the weather...which was ridiculous. We got there to find gin clear water, but the wind was starting to pick up. We kicked up a few fish here and there as we worked our way up river and marvelled and how gorgeous the area was. Long story short the wind was a steady 35mph and gusting to 50mph which meant that any attempt to mend and the wind would blow your whole rig upstream. The trees coming down all around us was a bit unnerving to say the least! At one point we heard a massive crash up around the bend and within minutes the river went to total chocolate for a half hour or so. Twice we had trees come down within about 25 yards of where we had just been so we were both a bit on edge. When the wind calmed down the rain picked up and within a few hours the river was visibly rising and the runs were chocolate milk so we called it a day.

I had a blast hanging out and fishing with Rich for a few days. Preliminary plans are in the works for a trip out east to chase some fish around...

Also had a few good shots emailed over to me from some of my customers that are getting in to solid Michigan browns on ACF flies. Here are a few that took a Cotton Candy Double Deceiver, Red Rocket, and Voodoo Squatch. Thanks for the pictures guys, glad you are hammering on some fish!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mystic Steelhead Camp and a few brookies

Made it back home for a day and a half between trips so I figure I may as well throw a few shots from the last few glorious days up!

Took off after work on Thursday and drove to the NW corner of New York to meet up with a group of guys for the Mystic Rod Steelhead Camp weekend. It was a great little cabin that easily accomodated the eight of us for a few nights. We stayed up pretty late talking flies and Mystic rods. Going in to the weekend I was looking forward to fishing a few of Mystics heavier sticks and they did not disappoint. The 10' 7WT and 8WT are ideal indi-rods for steelhead, and the 7WT switch cast like a dream. I ordered up the 8WT for myself and am anxiously awaiting the completion of their 8WT switch.

NY tribs were mostly blown so we headed over to some small PA tribs and proceeded to find fish in spots where fish should be. The water started off with hazy green tint that lightened over the three days on the water.

Some fish were beat up a bit but the majority of the fish we got in to were either colored up and clean or straight chrome. This fish had a beautiful coloration and pulled like a freight train.

As I came up on the pool this beast was in I could see a little bit of shadow so I made a few drifts and it happily munched an egg. This one was a bit on the larger side for the weekend and also was not happy about being stuck.

Saturday evening we were on our way back towards camp and stopped off at 20 Mile. She had dropped significantly over the previous few days so a few of us hit the mouth to make good use of the switch rod since the weather was so calm. About 30 minutes in we switched up to a smaller shiner imitation and it was game on! First I hooked up....

Then Thad hooked up!

Nothing so cool as a lake double of pure chrome! Coming from Oregon to hit the tribs with us for the week was a haul for Thad, but I am pretty sure he won't forget this.

Another nice male taken down close to the lake.

Proud papa Dennis with his son Fisher. This was Fisher's second time out and his first landed steelhead; I think the look says it all! He clipped off the fly that he used, so I am sure this is going 8x10 with the fly clipped in the frame.

Fisher handled the fish carefully and allowed me to get one more shot as he slid it back to the water.

After a great time chasing steelhead Sunday night an Monday were a welcome change of pace. I headed about an hour over to a private cabin on a small creek to fish for native browns Sunday night, then brookies on Monday. It is the second time I have been over to the Senyo property and it did not disappoint.

Spotted this guy as I crept along the rocks and was able to sprawl over a boulder and drop my camera down in to the plunge pool to get a shot.

Nice male brookie that decided to make a snack of a small streamer.

This was not the biggest of the weekend for me, but it was the biggest with someone right there to snap a shot for me while sporting my TFM gear!

This male had just phenomenal coloring to it...enough so that I felt it deserved the only color in the shot. Can't wait to get back and give the 2WT and 7x another workout.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dawn of a fishing trip

Harder to sleep last night than usual for much to do and thoughts of fish dancing in my head. Stayed up late finishing up a pair of orders to hit the mail this morning in advance of the weeklong ACF hiatus to the water. I am super excited as I will have the opportunity to fish a number of rivers through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio over the next week with a few groups of friends. Hoping to get in to some nice fish but that is secondary to simply unwinding a bit and having a good time; of course tying in to a few hogs would facilitate said unwinding quite nicely. I have a mid week break back at the house next Wednesday, so I will try to get a midway update posted before picking up a buddy at the airport and heading back to the water.

The picture above is not steelhead or trout water.
It is not a recent picture.
It is not cold.
It is however one of my favorite shots and evokes a great sense of what good is coming over the coming days. This shot was taken a few years ago on a small creek outside of Columbus that I was fishing with my good buddy Berkshire. Mike and I don't get to fish together very often anymore but something epic seems to happen the few times a year we make it happen (for example Mike landing a a cold water spring creek...that was pretty much blown January...on a stripped streamer...ridiculous). If you ever get a chance to fish with him make sure you don't get tangled up or take too long rigging because he will ignore courtesy, cast to your spot, and catch your fish with a stealing Shut Yo mouth.

-mike schmidt

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mufasa Step by Step

Mouthful of Mufasa...what a beautiful site! Since Martin gave me the prototype skulls to work with at Somerset I have been working with the Flymen Fishing Co Fish Skulls to come up with a pattern I can effectively streamer fish, and the Mufasa has been my most sucesssful articulated pattern with the Skull to date. Fished with quick jerk strips on a sinking line this fly has a great vertical action to it that really gets the fish going.

Thread: UTC140 denier, tan
Hook1: Gamagatsu B10S, size 1
Hook2: Gamagatsu SP11, size 1
Tail/top: Barred Marabou
Body1: Schlappen, tan and yellow
Body2: Ice Dub, copper
Legs: Barred Rubber
Head1: Senyo Laser Dub, dark tan and rusty brown
Head2: Fish Skull, large Coppertone
Weight: .035 lead
Eyes: 3D Epoxy, Super Pearl 1/4"
Epoxy: Clear Cure Goo, thick
Connect: Beadalon, 19 strand .018" with three size E beads

STEP 1: With your Gamagatsu SP11 size 1 in the vise get your thread started and wrapped to the back of the hook shank. Once at the rear tie in point, located above the midpoint of the hook spear, tie a single barred marabou feather hanging approximately one hook length off the back of the hook. Tightly wrap the material forward up the hook shank then return your thread to the rear tie in point.

STEP 2: Select both a tan and and a yellow schlappen feather to be tied in as the body. Grasp the feathers by their tip and stroke the fibers back so you can tie in the feathers by just the stem. The feathers should be tied in on top of each other at the rear tie in point, and with the concave side facing down.

STEP 3: Using a good amount of Ice Dub, to provide a bulky underbody, dub forward to about one eye width back on the hook. Having a properly dubbed underbody will allow the feather stems to sink down in the next step, and so protect them from teeth.

STEP 4: Taking the two schlappen feathers together, fold them and palmer the forward. Be careful as you wrap forward not to trap fibers down to the body.

STEP 5: Just behind the eyes tie in three barred rubber legs by their mid-point, so that three legs extend back down each side of the hook shank. Clip them relatively evenly so they extend about to the bend of the hook. Then tie in another barred marabou feather extending about halfway back on the tail, so as to form a nice taper.

STEP 6: With your Gamagatsu B10S size 1 hook in the vise use a 3" piece of 19 strand .018" Beadalon to attach the back hook. Make sure that the back hook is inverted, so the hook at this stage is pointing up. You will string on three size E beads to help keep the wire gap closed, resulting in less fouling of materials.

STEP 7: With the two hooks securely attached you will add a little additional weight. This weight will give the fly a little more vertical motion on retrieve and ensure that the fly rides correctly, with the front hook up. You will attach two pieces of .035 lead side by side on top of the front hook shank. They should cover about two thirds of the shank but not too close to the front where the head will be added.

STEP 8: As in step two, select both a tan and and a yellow schlappen feather to be tied in as the body. Grasp the feathers by their tip and stroke the fibers back so you can tie in the feathers by just the stem. The feathers should be tied in on top of each other at the rear tie in point, and with the concave side facing down.

STEP 9: Same as steps three and four you will now dub the underbody of Ice Dub and palmer the two feathers forward. This should reach about two thirds forward on the hook shank.

STEP 10: Again, tie in three rubber legs by the midpoint resulting in three legs down each side. Trim them about where they reach the eye of the rear hook.

STEP 11: Invert the vise and tie in a topping of Barred Marabou extending back to about the midpoint of the rear hook.

STEP 12: Pull a clump of dark tan Senyo Laser Dub from the bag then pull and stack the material so that all the fibers are in the same direction. Tie in that clump on top of the hook shank by it's mid-point and then repeat with a clump on the bottom of the hook shank. It will take doing it a few times to get the amount correct; what you are aiming for is as much as you can add and still comfortably slide the Fish Skull over it.

STEP 13: To add the appearance of gills tie in a small pinch of Rusty Brown Senyo Laser Dub on each side.

STEP 14: To assist with this step I tile the front hook up a bit in the vise. Make sure the 'heavy' side of the Fish Skull on the opposite side of the shank from the hook point so it will ride correctly, then slide the large Fish Skull directly over the eye of the hook, reversing the materials and forcing it backwards, until the eye of the hook comes through the slot. Secure the skull in place by squirting some Clear Cure Goo thick through the slot and on either side of the eye, then hit it with the light to cure it and the Fish Skull is going nowhere.

STEP 15: The final step is to add eyes. I personally do not use the eyes that come with the Skulls, instead opting for 1/4" 3D Epoxy Super Pearl eyes. Just a little dab of Loctite Gel and hold them in place until it heats up.

I have mostly used this pattern in the tan and olive variations as the heads I got when they first came out were these two colors. With seven colors of head this pattern can be altered to suit your local forage. I can say that recently I have done well fishing a variation with the black head, black marabou, black and blue schlappen....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Busy weekend on the river and at the vise

Yet another crazy busy weekend here at ACF. Started off the weekend on Friday night by hitting a wine shop on the north side of town with Mrs ACF and just relaxing for the first time in a while. Good wine, good food, and great company! Got home late and quickly got together my gear for the morning so I could get a few hours of sleep before heading to the river. Wake up call came early and off I went to chase some fish.

Saturday was a day that Mother Nature showed off just how bi-polar she can be when it comes to weather. We started off the morning in the low 40s and overcast...perfect streamer weather. Early on the fish were actively stalking streamers as they were ripped from cover, following for 15 feet, then turning back without taking a bite. A few fish made half hearted slaps at the flies, including one fish in the low twenties, but no hook ups early. About three hours in everything shut down as the temp took a sharp drop, then started to hail, then rain. The hail and rain did not last too long and after about aan hour it started to warm back up a little and the sun came out. Eventually we got in to a few mid teens browns as the fish became active again and I found my mind focusing on a hole I knew was coming. Sure enough when we got to the spot and worked in to position a big buttery slab showed itself as the fly came through the first time, but it did not hook up. Waited a few seconds and fired a second cast through the slot and again a flash. Fired the fly in a third time along with a big upstream mend to slow it down and saw the fish coming seemingly in slow motion, mouth closed, line tightened up, JACKPOT! She fought unbelievably hard and took me downstream as she tried every trick in the book to get in to the far bank. I finally got the upper hand a bit downstream in a bit of slack water and coaxed her in to the net.

Nate was able to get a great shot of the fish with a Mufasa still flowing from her mouth. This fish was the hardest pulling brown I have fought through this last streamer season, and she taped out at 23.5". After two quick lifts for a photo the fly was removed, and the fish returned to freedom. Stuck to the plan for nine hard hours of hard fishing and it payed off.

Sunday consisted of continuing the tying that I started when I got off the river on Saturday. All day was spent at the vise knocking out flies for orders to hit the mail in the morning. The Post Office will be happy to see me coming!

Got a few sets of step by step shots completed and have some video of the fish release on good stuff to come here this week.