How to: Keep Your Dry Fly Floating

Brown Trout and Green DrakeAimee and I were on the Taylor last weekend and were approached by a gentleman who was new to fly fishing with several questions. The first and the one that I am going to address here is “I put that powder on my dry fly and it started sinking almost immediately; how do I keep it from sinking?”

There are a few different ways to answers this question: if you’re working on being a cocky jackass, you might tell him that if he got a better drift his dry fly would float. Or, if you’re trying to be a decent human, you could explain that a combination of gel and powder can help to keep dry flies floating high all day. We tend to like helping people get into fly fishing so I went with option two.
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River Brew Review: Eddyline Brewing Crank Yanker IPA

crank-yanker-canThe other beer that my buddy dropped off was the Crank Yanker IPA from Eddyline Brewing. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that psyched when he dropped that and the River Runner off, since neither are really in my beer wheelhouse, but how could I not try locally brewed beers that come in badass 16 ounce cans? Rad microbrew pounders = AWESOME.
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River Brew Review: Eddyline Brewing River Runners Pale Ale

River-Runners-Pale-AleP1050056I normally try to have some sort of story to go along with a beer review, but I’ve been super busy at work and haven’t been getting out much so we’ll just go with a bland boring old beer review.

A while ago one of my buddies dropped off a couple of six packs from Eddyline Brewing. They are awesome for several reasons: first, they are cans; second, they are 16 ounces; third, they are actually six packs not four packs as you often see for craft brewed 16 ounce cans; fourth, the cans are rad; and fifth, they are brewed in Buena Vista, CO, a spot not known for breweries.
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Trip Report: False Albacore

Aimee got me an incredible birthday gift this year. She contacted Eliot Jenkins with Greasy Beaks Fly-Fishing and set up a False Albacore fishing trip for me and my two best buddies from high school.

Nick Mike Albie

Nick, Dale and I crashed at Dale’s house in Marlborough, MA, and then made the drive down to Stonington, CT, to start the trip at the surprisingly reasonable time of 8 AM. Eliot had been out the day before and the ocean had been brutally rough, we were hoping that the waves had settled a bit and headed out.

Nick bent rodDale strippingNick Eliot fighting double

The seas were rough, but not unmanageable and we started the day with what seemed like every other boat in the ocean tossing flies and lures at schools of rising Albies. Dale hooked up first on one of the spinning rods and we were all treated to the sound of line ripping off the reel at an unprecedented rate. That reel was screaming!

Dale Albie

We continued to fight the other boats for a bit and picked up a couple more Albies before heading out for greener pastures. Eliot made the call to run from Watch Hill where we started up to Port Judith. This was not an easy ride but since it gave us a chance to target Albies without racing 30 other boats to each school we went for it. Eliot’s hunch paid off and we found ourselves in a group of 5 or 6 boats and lots of Albies.

Mike one hand albieAlbie DoubleDale Albie 2

There isn’t much better than watching your best buddy, the guy who you learned to fly fish with, hooking an Ablie, stripping in some line, thinking he has the upper hand, and then watching him freak out as the fish bolts at more than 30 mph, ripping all the fly line and 50 yards of backing from the reel in seconds. Unreal.

Albie Close up

Given the rough seas the fly casting was tough; you had to spend as much time making sure that you didn’t fall off the boat as you did targeting the fish, but boy was it worth it. I’m not sure how many we landed, but it was a fair number, especially considering the conditions.

Albie side shot

Even though we were targeting Albies, we still hooked up with a bunch of different species – scup, black bass, striped bass and bluefish all found their way into the boat at one point. We picked up fish fly-fishing, and spin fishing; we picked up fish within inches of the surface and jigging deep. Basically it was an incredible day.

Mike Little StriperNick Black Bass

If you are ever in New England in mid-September to early October you should definitely give Eliot a call and go get crushed by some little tunny!

Albie Tom Foolery

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River Brew Review: Baxter Brewing, Co. Tarnation

Tarnation labelAimee and I recently spent 10 days on the East Coast and although we would have loved to just fish and sample the plethora of incredible craft brews, work, babies and family were the priority. I did have time for just one beer review, although thanks go out to all the folks who dropped off beers for me to try.

Chris brought me Tarnation California Style Lager, made by Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston, Maine. Apparently they have a Pale Ale that is to die for, but knowing that I don’t love the Pale Ales he brought me their craft lager instead.

I don’t really have any pictures for this beer, we pounded a few after biking some super fun trails, and I hit up a couple sitting on the beach, enjoying the 80 degree weather and watching the kids play in the lake. Luckily I had one left to review on my last night in New Hampshire. I sat down to tie my dad a couple of big black bass poppers and cracked a Tarnation.

Appearance: Well, since I hammered these out of the can – blue with a dude relaxing with his pickaxe? From what I could see it looks like a darker lager – almost an amber color.

Smell: Also didn’t get the big smell that you get when you pour into a glass but from what I could glean it is malty with a dash of hops.

Taste: For a lager I would say – thick and tangy. Had more of the grassy/hay hop in it than I would expect. Kind of surprising for a lager. For me it was fun to enjoy a couple while I was back on the east coast but I wouldn’t call it sessionable.

Overall: Ok. Not my favorite but super cool to try a craft lager while back on the east coast. This was my first California Style Lager and I’d like to try another to see if this is par for the course or a different take on a style that I thought I would like.

3 out of a Six Pack ©

3 out of a Six Pack ©

Stats:
ABV: 5.3%
Brewery: Baxter Brewing Co. Lewiston, ME

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How To: Tippet Rings

I’ll be honest, I’ve never used a tippet ring. The fly shop that I worked at didn’t carry them and I’d never even heard of them til I saw this video. Using Barbie to showcase the tippet rings is sheer genius. Give it a watch, the deadpan narrating with the hilarious video is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone.

Put a Ring on It from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.

After watching I’m definitely interested. I’m one of those guys who has 700 knots in his leader because he is too cheap to buy a new one, if a tippet ring will help reduce the number of knots in my leader while allowing me to switch tippet quicker and easier it sounds like a win/win situation. I’m currently on the East Coast and will see if I can swing by the local fly shop out here and pick some up. Check it out!

tippet ring

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River Brew Review: Colorado Kolsch German-Style Ale

Colorado Kolsch I’ve had this beer for a couple weeks and have been meaning to review it that whole time, but I got sick in there and I am crushed at work (if you have retirement plan questions or would like to start a retirement plan please email mike@tasty-takes.com) so it just kept slipping through the cracks. Tonight, though, it’s happening.

I ended up with this beer because the local liquor store where I shop has a woefully small selection of micro brews and most of those are IPAs that I dislike reviewing since I don’t enjoy them much. Given their selection one of the few non-IPAs that I hadn’t tried yet was the Colorado Kolsch. Continue reading

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News: Backcountry Beer is getting better and better!

We all love beer and nothing tastes better than a nice, ice cold beer in the backcountry. But having that nice cold beer is rarely easy and perhaps that’s part of the appeal. Now, thanks to these two new inventions backcountry beer is getting easier by the second.

The first invention is beer from gel packs. Check out this review of gel pack beer by GearJunkie. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages has developed a portable beverage carbonator, couple that with some gel flavor packets and presto changeo you have cold crisp refreshing beer in the backcountry without having to lug that bomber or six pack around til you get thirsty. Aimee and I are planning a hike over to Aspen at some point this fall, I might have to give one of these babies a test ride!

backcountry beverages.jpg

The second invention has less of an application to the hiking backcountry, but is perfect for those backcountry float trips. The Itinerant Angler breaks down the use of a stainless steel mini keg and your local growler bar to bring your favorite micro brew on any float trip. I think growler bars are rad and this new mini keg is supposed to keep beer bubbly for up to a week, not that it will last that long!

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Gear Review: Fishpond Lumbar Packs

I am really reviewing the Crooked Island Guide Pack, but since they don’t make it anymore I am going to just go with a generic review of their lumbar packs. Nah, I’m reviewing the Crooked Island Guide Pack, but most of the features are found in several of the Fishpond Lumbar packs so…. here we go!

Owyhee Brown with Handlebar

Boy does my pack look new in this picture! Must be from a while ago.

I have had this pack for almost 10 years? That can’t be right can it? I think it is and the whole time it has been fantastic. Has the pack been through the ringer? Yes. Is it time for a new one? Yes. But let me tell you why I love this pack and why my next fishing pack will also be a Fishpond Lumbar pack.

I originally purchased the pack when I was guiding and the reason I was really attracted to the Fishpond Lumbar Packs was the fold down fly bench. On the lumbar packs it is huge. Anyone who knows me knows that I am kind of a mess. My desk for work is a mess, my bookshelves are a mess, my fly-tying desk – holy cow, serious mess, and I am the same way with my fishing pack. I know several good fishermen and good friends who are incredibly anal and incredibly organized, for them everything has its place: each dry fly, nymph and streamer goes in a specific place. That is definitely not how I roll. Fly organization is not one of my strengths, which is one of the many reasons why I love the fold down fly bench. It keeps everything that I have used during a day of fishing in one spot, and throughout a day of fishing it becomes a glorious mess! Droppers, streamers, dries, some with a bit of tippet attached, some still connected with tippet. I can put them all on the fold down fly bench and not have to take the time to put them back where they belong.

You can see the mess I keep on the fold down fly bench.

You can see the mess I keep on the fold down fly bench.

The fold down fly bench is also amazing if you are prone to dropping things, Continue reading

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Gear Review: Umpqua UPG Fly Boxes

UPG Boxes side by sideAs per the norm I wait until I’ve seriously put something through the ringer before I’m willing to review it. Since Aimee and I bought a few of these boxes about a year ago I figure its about time I did a gear review.

The Umpqua UPG Fly Boxes were touted by Umpqua as the next step in the evolution of the fly box. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I’ve never spent as much on a fly box as I did for the UPG boxes. They are expensive, heavy and pretty bulky. They are also totally worth the money, weight and size. These boxes rule.

We bought three of these guys, I got the Magnum Midge and Magnum Dry and Aimee went with the Weekender. These boxes hold a ton of flies. I used to carry five or six boxes at all times, now because I can fit so many flies in each of these boxes I carry two. Sure they are each much heavier than the prior fly boxes that I used, but since there are less of them my pack is actually lighter now.

Magnum Midge 2

Beyond the capacity of these boxes, I also love that the super high quality foam is slotted. In the past I have used foam boxes that were not slotted and after a year or two of heavy use the foam has shredded resulting in flies falling out everywhere. Not awesome. The foam on the UPG boxes is very resilient and holds flies securely. Rather than needing to be careful every time I open a box, since flies could be loose and pouring out anywhere, I am confident that all the flies are in place and that I won’t drop them into the drink as soon as I open the box. The photos below are of the foam after a year of hard use, it still looks brand new. Awesome.

UPG Foam Close UpUPG Big Dry Close Up

Aimee and I like to quote our friend Cam who once said, “My life changed the day that I saw Tom McCall’s midge box.” For those of you who fish in the Rockies having a fully stocked midge box is a must. They work year round, they work when nothing else will and they pretty much always work. My midge box used to be a huge mess, it was a pain to put the flies in the foam, or if I was using a plastic box they would all get tangled up or skip from compartment to compartment so they were never where I expected. Basically having a super badass midge box was hard for me. No longer. In addition to the snug slitted foam, which holds midges really well, UPG added magnetic panels for ultra small midges. The magnets are strong enough that the midges don’t go flying all over the place and big enough that you can fit a ton of midges on it while still being able to tell them apart and find the ones that you want. Awesome.

UPG Midge Magnets

The other feature that I really like is the watertight seal. Those of you that have fished with me, or followed Tasty Takes for a while, know that I will to try to cross pretty much every river I fish. When wearing a hip pack this can be problematic – I often partially submerge, and sometimes fully submerge, my pack. Since I’m too cheap to spring for a fully waterproof pack that means that I dunk everything in my pack fairly often. With my old fly boxes I would have to remember when I got home to open all the boxes and dry them out in an attempt to avoid mildew and rust on all my precious flies. Since I picked up the UPG boxes this is no longer a worry. They seal super tight and I haven’t had any water in a fly box since I got them. Awesome.

Magnum Midge 1Magnum Dry - small driesMagnum Dry - Big Dries

Unfortunately, there may be a durability issue with the closures of the boxes. After about 6 months I broke one of the latches that keeps the Magnum Midge box closed. Not awesome. The other side still closes tightly and is completely waterproof, but the broken side no longer has that water tight seal. Because it’s tucked into in my pack it doesn’t flop open all the time and even if it did it wouldn’t matter since the flies are all held so well, but I do now have to worry about drying the box out after deep wading. To be fair I was fishing in sub-freezing temps when it broke so its possible that if you are 1. more careful than I am or 2. don’t fish in freezing cold weather you might not have a problem at all.

Overall I really like these fly boxes and am very happy with our purchases.

5 out of a Six Pack Scale ©

5 out of a Six Pack Scale ©

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