Saturday, October 3, 2009

Support our Troops

There are many groups that are serving our men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Our government is falling far short of providing the support they need. A few of these groups, that I am aware of, are Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc., Army Bass Anglers, LLC and Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation, Inc. Many of our soldiers have life changing handicaps and these groups help them contend with their injuries, depression and overall wellness. These groups offer fishing as a means of comfort to our soldiers, who have given more for the freedoms that we enjoy than most of our politicians, by giving them something else to concentrate on.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a nationwide group dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active duty military personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings. Locally (Denver, CO area), Project Healing Waters volunteers meet regularly with current war veterans and heroes and also Vets dating back to Vietnam, Korea and WWII. Along with teaching them how to tie flies and cast a fly rod they have even enlisted the cooperation of the Colorado Division of Wildlife to fish private stocked ponds. Other states have volunteers doing similar things. Project Healing Waters uses private donations to take our heroes on Fishing Trips all around the world. They don’t even think twice to ask airlines and hotels to comp. a flight or housing to help defray the cost of these trips.

Army Bass Anglers sponsors events like “Fishing for Freedom” tournaments that pair local fishermen with wounded Soldiers, for a day of tournament bass fishing on an awesome fishery, especially for them. They depend on local businesses, volunteers, and caring local and regional anglers in the San Antonio, Texas area and specifically with Fort Sam Houston’s Brooke Army Medical Center. They also work closely with a 12,000 square foot replacement building for the 1,200 square foot existing Warrior and Family Support Center formerly called the “SFAC” (Soldier and Family Assistance Center) located at Fort Sam Houston.

The Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation, Inc., a Billings, Montana based non-profit corporation, provides high-quality therapeutic and rehabilitative recreation, primarily to young enlisted servicemen and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan still in rehab in the military hospital system. They do this by taking traumatically wounded servicemen and women Fly Fishing for trout on Montana’s rivers and streams. A quote from the W&QWF website reads “Fishing is a solace…the opposite of war…a gentle and healing occupation.” (Luis Marden)
If you can help in any way, either by donating your time or money, or if you are a Vet that is having trouble coping with life at home, contact these organizations. Reach out to help yourself by helping others.

For more information on these great groups:
Email Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing at
Email Army Bass Anglers at
Contact Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation by going to

For more information on Project Healing Water Fly Fishing in Colorado, contact me. If I don’t have the answers, I’ll get them.

Tight Lines---<*))))><
Larry Snyder

Saturday, August 8, 2009

You'll want to know more about T.L. Johnson Fly Rods

Until I have a full report on all his new products, you will just have to wait for my complete Product Review on T.L. Johnson Rods and his new Reel. But for now, here is what's being said about Terry on-line. PAULRITTEN wrote: "Just picked up a new TL Johnson rod and figured that I don't see many reviews of these that I'd add mine... Anyway, I took it up to the mountains this weekend in search of trout.... The rod is a new one, but is the old style (green blank). I have no idea if the new colored blanks coming out have a different action
Admittedly, I prefer newer glass rods to the classic Fenwicks, Silaflex's, etc that have so many benefactors, so please keep that in mind. I find the classic rods to be a bit "thick" and this rod is definately not that. This rod is fast! Quite a bit faster than my Diamondglass 8' 4 weight (my favorite of the line) or or event the 6' 5 weight. I'd actually put it up there with my Winston WT graphite rods. In other words, exactly what I was looking for image
I had the rod strung up with a TT4 line and was able to cast amazing distances although it load as closely as the Diamondglass 4 weight. Still, the area I was fishing is just covered with little pools (20 - 30' long) followed by a small drop-off to the next pool. I was easily able to stand in the middle of one pool and work the next pool back to front even into a Rocky Mountain wind.
There were numerous little brookies and cutts that were about the length of my hand and the rod certainly did give some "life" to those fish, but was in no way overpowered by the 14" brookie either.
In my mind, this rod is perfect for the mountain west - short, powerful, able to cast quite a distance, and able to handle wind. If you prefer a rod that loads more quickly, this probably isn't it (maybe uplining it would work?) - but for out here in Colorado I think it is my new go-to rod."
swampsavage wrote: "I have one on the way... looking forward to receiving it. The reviews have been great and it may well be my "go to" rod for Appalachian blue line streams. Got plenty of 4, 5, and 6wt lines (WF and DT) to try out on it. Hope to be giving reports from the Cherokee Nat'l Forest and Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park next year, God willing." Pocono wrote: "I'm considering purchasing an 8'0" Synergy SG rod from Terry Johnson. Conceptually, I like the idea of using graphite in the butt section to give it a little more power and to keep the blank profile thinner. Does anyone have any experience with this rod/blank? If so, I'd appreciate hearing from you before I go ahead and make the purchase."
gearboy wrote "Pocono, Check the post by PaulRitten in Fishing with Fiberglass about a TL rod. I've only ever heard great things about any of his rods. They don't get mentioned much here and not sure why."
Pocono wrote "Thanks for the feedback. When I talked to Terry he said that he was making the Synergy SG with E glass, not S glass. He also has a new blank color; which he's calling buck. He was going to send me some pictures of the new blanks (he described the color as similar to the old Phillipson eponite blanks), but I haven't seen anything from him yet. It's the 8'0" 4 wt. that I'm interested in."
Mountainshark wrote "Pocono, you will not be disappointed in any of the TL Johnson rods. I have the 8' 5 wt, 7'6 4/5 wt, and 7' 4 wt, all of the rods cast great and have the look and feel of the high quality glass rod that they are. The work, service and knowledge that comes out of his shop is second to none. The 8' 5wt is one of my favorite rods when I hunt big fish, it performs like glass, but has power down deep in the butt section when it's needed. The 4 wt's are wonderful dry fly rods for the rivers and streams I fish here. So far, I have not had a single complaint from anyone who has used one. I'm not sure why some guys get hung up on the fact that there is graphite in the butt section. To me it seems like not buying a modern car because there is plastic parts on it."
PAULRITTEN wrote: "Mountainshark:..... I agree - his workmanship is second to none. I have been lucky enough to see in person his entire line of rods and he will soon be making me a graphite 7wt to replace a Winston that I just can't get comfortable with (although he doesn't know it yet...). His service is unbelievable as well - how many builders will hand deliver a rod to you after apologizing that it took 2 weeks instead of 1 to get your rod done (due to a family emergency I might add). Add to that the fact that his blanks are rolled in his own shop to tapers that I find outstanding, and what's not to like? When you compare his prices and rods to those of the big boys - no comparison in my mind. I'm sure Steffen and others are the same, but it seems like Terry gets overlooked a bit."

Well folks... that's just a teaser until I have all the details on his new products and redesigned lineup. If there were a picture of perfectionist in the "fly rod" dictionary, it would be of Terry. For now, though, you can salivate over what's currently available at Fly Fishing CRAZY.

See you on the BACK CAST!
Tight Lines-------------<*))))><
Larry Snyder
Owner: Rocky Mountain Web Connection, LLC

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Product Review: Elkhorn Fly Rod and Reel

Elkhorn Fly Rod and Reel is a small company in Loveland, CO. They produce high quality, affordable products that will give you a lifetime of service without breaking the bank. Elkhorn now offers over 50 models of high performance, affordable fly rods in weights 1 through 12. Three and six piece spey rods and hand crafted two piece, two tipped, bamboo rods are among the latest offerings.

But they didn’t stop there. They also offer precision machine cut fly reels in their affordable lineup. No "die-cast” or inexpensive shortcuts are taken in the construction of these quality fly reels. Currently, two series of Elkhorn fly reels, the MA and T Series, are offered to perfectly complement their graphite fly rods and a Classic series that when matched to their bamboo rods will please even the most discriminating purist.

I’ve been fishing one of Elkhorn’s most popular Traveler series rods for about 7 years now. It is a 9’0”, 3 weight, 4 piece rod and is matched to an Elkhorn T1 reel. I use this everywhere in Colorado. I prefer the feel of the light line and progressive medium-fast action over my 5 and 6 weight rods when fishing Colorado streams and Rivers. It generates some serious line speed. The 4 pc. rod measures 30 ½ inches in the case.

The Nomad Series is a budget priced rod that fishes much like the Traveler series. It has the same progressive medium-fast action with a gunmetal-titanium colored anodized aluminum reel seat and beautiful rosewood inserts (seven and eight weights have saltwater style seats with a fighting butt) and a matte finish with black thread wraps.

If you’ve ever hiked into a remote area to fish, you know that light weight and compact is important. Elkhorn’s 5x Series 5 piece rods pack to 20-25 inches. And their Ultralight Pack Series 7 Piece Rods pack down to 17-19 inches. Both have a seamless progressive medium-fast action. The 5 piece comes in 3-5 weight with a 9’ 8 weight available as well. The Ultralight 7 Piece comes in either a 8’6” 4 weight or a 9’ 5 weight. I’ve never fished these rods, but have checked them out in Brian’s store and the 7 piece feels to have the action and flexibility of a 3 or 4 piece, while the 5X would compare to most 2 or 3 piece rods.

As I said earlier, Elkhorn makes some quality affordable fly reels to compliment their fine lineup of rods. Their most popular is the T Series. It is a mid-arbor reel that features an over-sized cork-on-delrin disc drag system for deep, smooth, controlled stopping power. This drag design ranges from free spinning to “stop them in their tracks” power. It provides a perfect choice for fresh or saltwater applications at a sensible price. The T series is available in four sizes. The T-1 covers 2/3/4 weight lines , T-2 is 5/6 weight, T-3 is 7/8 weight and the T-4 handles 9-12 weight lines. And, of course, all Elkhorn reels include a reel pouch.

Next is their MA Series. MA stands for maximum arbor which translates to faster line pickup and minimum line coil. These gorgeous reels are fully machined with multiple lightening ports to remove excess material without compromising strength. And these reels incorporate a cork-on-teflon disc drag system. The result is an ultra-light reel with work horse stopping power.

Elkhorn’s Classic Series reels are manufactured to replicate reels of much higher cost from days gone by, yet offer the same look and feel of these beautifully crafted reels. Machined from billet stock, these reels feature an authentic click/pawl drag system sure to please even the most discriminating purist. Available in two colors: Antique Gold or Silver. As with all Elkhorn reels, they include a reel pouch.

Now, for you ladies! Elkhorn has incorporated pink and raspberry colors in some of their model rods and reels. These colors are absolutely gorgeous and will stand out on the stream like a Gucci purse. I took a Raspberry Traveler Series 905-4 Rod and a Raspberry T-1 Reel to fly fishing class and the women couldn’t take their eyes off of it. The t-3 and T-4 Reels also come in a gorgeous dark blue color as well.

Check out all these products plus the Western, Big Game, EX and Tonkin Split Bamboo Series rods, plus their complete line of blanks at and for a nominal fee, Brian will even laser engrave your business logo and/or name in the reel seat for a truly custom outfit.

I’ll be seeing you at Fly Fishing Crazy.

Tight Lines---------<*)))><

Larry Snyder

Owner: Rocky Mountain Web Connection, LLC

Monday, June 1, 2009

Switching to the Fly Rod

If your going to take the spinning rig along then you might as well forget about trying the Fly Rod. But, if you're serious about trying to learn fly fishing, then just take it and practice your techniques. If you don't catch anything, they'll still be there for the next trip. You might be surprised how well the flies work.
In my experience, if you can master the fly rod, you will catch fish when the blade throwers aren't. Find out what patterns are working for your area and give them a try. Local fly fishing shops can tell you if there are any hatches and what time of day. Fish the recommended dry flies at those times to trout you see rising. At other times, fish a recommended nymph (ask about which ones work in faster water and which work best in slow).
In Dry Fly Fishing, size, shape and color are the important factors. Use a floating Fly Line and rub a floating line dressing on about the first 15 feet of the tip of your line. You will need to attach a tapered leader to the fly line. I recommend a 7 1/2 foot leader tapered down to 5x (about 4 pound test). Depending on the size of fly, you will need to taper it down further with tippet. You must taper the tippet 1 size at a time; i.e. 5x to 6x to 7x. Never jump a size or your leader will not lay out straight when you cast. The rule of thumb for tippet size is the fly size divided by 3 equals the tippet size. For example 5x tippet can be used with size 14 or 16 flies, 6x with size 16 or 18 flies and 7x with size 20 or 22 flies. If your a beginner, try to stick with the 14 - 18 size flies. When casting to a rising trout, try to cast your fly about 4 to 6 feet directly upstream from the last rise and try to get the fly to float drag free down to the fish. I will address how to compensate for drag later. During a hatch, a fish will generally rise at fairly regular intervals, every 10 to 20 seconds or so. If your fly floats over the fish in a natural manner, the fish should take it. If not, cast above it again as long as the fish keeps rising to the naturals. A lot of times, it's a matter of timing your drift to the rising rhythm of the fish. If your fly doesn't float naturally, it can put that fish down and you might as well start casting to another rising fish.
As I pointed out in a previous BLOG, unless there is an insect hatch at the time you're fishing, you will catch more fish nymphing. Use the same line, leader, tippet size rules, as with dry fly only add a strike indicator on your leader and split shot about a foot above the fly. I prefer the small, half inch size, cork bobber type strike indicator that slides on the leader and is held in place with a tooth pick. It can easily be adjusted on your leader for the depth of water you're fishing. The object is to get the nymph down to the bottom but not so deep that you are getting hung up all the time. Use a small BB size or smaller split shot to get it down. The size of split shot will depend on the speed of the current. Not getting down and ticking the bottom on the drift, add more weight or move your strike indicator higher on the leader. Getting hung up all the time, use less weight or move strike indicator down. Nymph selection, here again, check with a local fly shop on what's working. I always carry size 16 and 18 Hairs Ear's, Buckskins, and Pheasant Tails. They seem to be good all around patterns.
OK, let's try to tackle this drag issue. Drag occurs when the current of the stream is pulling your LINE faster than a natural fly floats. If this occurs, it causes your fly to drift faster or slower or to be pulled toward your side of the stream and does not look natural. Imagine watching a nymph being washed away from the rock that it was clinging to. It will be swept down stream with the current, no faster, no slower. A stream will have different layers of current speed from the middle out to the edge with the middle generally being faster and the edge slower. A keen eye can see these different speeds of current. The point of change of each layer of current is called a seam. The same is true with depth. The current will be faster on the surface than along the bottom (for some reason those rocks slow the water down - physics 101). Fish are basically lazy they will find the slowest current possible where they feel safe, but can still intercept food being washed passed them in the faster current. So, the idea is to drift your fly along those seams just on the fast side. The fish will be lying just on the slow side waiting for food to be washed by. They slip out into the faster current to intercept the nymph then slip back into their easy chair. In the case of the dry fly, they rise up to the faster surface to take the fly then they settle back down to the bottom.
So how does this affect drag? As I said, in nymphing, you want to drift your fly down just on the faster side of the seam. That means your fly line is floating on slower water than the nymph is in. This causes a belly in you line upstream from the nymph which eventually casues the nymph to slow down and to be pulled toward you, both unnatural movements that will turn a fish away. The way to compensate for this is a method called mending. In the case just described, you would need to mend your line downstream. To do this, immediately after casting your nymph, with a little lift and flip of the Fly Rod tip you flip just the line on the surface downsteam a foot or two so that the nymph is above the fly line to begin the drift and will catch up to it. You may need to mend the line more than once before the drift ends below you. The same applies to dry fly fishing. Mend the line before the fly reaches the rising fish so that when it gets down to the fish it will be floating naturally.
If you take the time to work on these techniques before you give up on fly fishing, you will probably catch a fish or 2. As your technique improves, so will your catch rate and some day you will be telling this story to other spin fishermen.

Good Luck and Tight Lines------<*)))><

Friday, May 29, 2009

Casting a Fly

The goal of FLY FISHING is to "Perpetrate the Fraud". The fraud is using an artificial fly and the perpetration is presenting it to the fish in a manner that looks real and natural.
First UNDERSTAND that in fly fishing, you are not casting the fly, as it is virtually weightless, you are casting the Fly Line. this is why you always match the weight of the Fly Line to the weight of the Fly Rod. Newcomers to Fly Fishing always seem to be enamored with the false cast. They see pictures of someone with a long length of Fly Line seemingly suspended in the air, either in front or behind them. It looks like such and artful technique. And it is!
False casting is mainly used while Dry Fly fishing. Truth be told, the majority of fish caught on a fly are going to be with nymphs and employ different casting techniques. A little entomology lesson will help understand this.
Aquatic insects live, in most cases, for several years under the surface in the infant or nymph stage. They cling to the rocks or vegetation on the bottom of the river or lake as they feed and grow larger. Only when the nymphs are ready to hatch into the adult stage do they swim to the surface, shuck the nymph casing and emerge as winged adults, much like a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. The newly hatched adults float along drying their wings before taking flight to find a mate either in the air or on nearby trees. Once they mate, the females return to the surface of the water to lay their eggs and die. it is during the wing drying time and the egg laying time that they are actually on the surface of the water and you see fish rising and feeding on the surface. The period of time from hatching into adults, mating, laying the eggs and death is a matter of hours to days. So, if nymphs live for years under the surface and adults live for hours or maybe days, how should you be spending most of your time fly fishing? A dry fly hatch is a joy to fish but most of the time you will be casting nymphs to catch fish.
Techniques for casting using nymphs are either a flip cast or a roll cast. You can find more detailed articles on the interner on how to make these casts, but I'll attempt a brief description here.
A flip cast is used mainly on rivers and streams. As the current carries your nymph down stream, you keep your rod tip low and keep it pointed toward where the fly (nymph) should be under the surface. As the line starts to straighten out below you, you start lifting your rod up to about a 40 to 45 degree angle until most of the line is free of the water. Then you flip the line back upstream, with both wrist and arm action, to start a new drift. A good flip cast will reach about 15 - 20 feet upstream, giving you about 40 feet of drift above and below you.
A roll cast is used mainly on lakes and ponds. It is a technique that when done properly, appears like you are rolling the line out onto the water. To perform a roll cast, like any cast, you first must have some line out on the water. You then lift the tip of your rod, slightly outside your casting shoulder, until the rod tip is slightly behind your shoulder and the line starts to belly behind the rod tip. At this point, you roll the line out by slightly raising your hand and flipping the the rod tip up and forward with some amount of speed. This should cause the line to roll out onto the water. A good roll cast can reach out 25 - 40 feet.
Now for the false cast. A Dry Fly floats because of its name, it needs to remain dry. If your dry fly absorbs water, and it will, it starts sinking and no longer looks natural. False casting is used to dry the fly, so it will float again on your next presentation. Even with the sprays and silica gel products to treat your fly from absorbing water, false casting is still important when dry fly fishing. Another reason to false cast is that your fly line picks up dirt from the water surface and that dirt absorbs water and start to sink a floating fly line. False casting, therefor, also helps dry the line. They make Floating Fly Line treatment that can be applied if your line just doesn't want to float anymore. It's always best to clean your fly line periodically.
False casting requires the most technique of all the casts. If you just whip your rod back and forth, you will hear what sounds like a whip cracking. You just snapped off your fly... say good bye to a buck or two! False casting requires a slight hesitation in your back and forward casts to allow the line to straighten out before you start in the opposite direction. Herein lies another lesson in fly casting. When, in a back cast, allowing the line to straighten out causes the weight of the line to load, or flex, the rod in that direction. Allowing the rod tip to load, before moving the rod in the opposite direction, gives you the power to cast the fly. Imagine trying to throw a baseball without winding up.
My best advise to beginners to learn that hesitation is to practice in your back yard with your complete setup, line, leader and some cheap Walmart flies. Cheap, because you'll probably snap a few off the first couple of times with the bull whip method. Stand sideways to the direction of your back and forward casts so you can watch what your line and rod tip are doing. Start your back cast and when you have the urge to start the forward cast, stop for just a split second and watch the line straighten out behind you. At that point, you will also see the rod tip loading in that direction. Then start your forward cast motion watching the line move forward. Hesitate that split second until it straightens and the rod tip loads forward. Just keep repeating the forward and back cast with that slight hesitation or delay before you cast in the opposite direction. Watch the line, pay attention to the loading of the rod tip and you will soon understand the mechanics of the timing. If you are still hearing the snap of the fly smacking your line, hesitate a little longer, but don't allow the line to drop too low to the ground. Your final presentation to the fish should be after the back loading of the rod and should be a more powerful forward cast allowing the line to settle on the water in front of you with you rod tip pointing toward your target. At this time, you can also allow more line to feed out through the guides if necessary.
Remember, allow the line to do it's job and you won't have to work as hard casting. A properly matched line to your rod is one of the most important things in fly fishing.
Tight Lines!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fryingpan River Rainbow... Basalt, CO

How big is yours?
This reproduction mount was caught and released. Measured 24" long and 21" girth. Caught with a 9'0" 3wt 4pc Elkhorn fly rod and T1 fly reel on a size 18 Mysis Shrimp pattern with 7x tippet and about 45 minutes to land. The spots on the mouth, leading edge of fins and thru the rainbow strip are critical in a repro as they identify the fish. Best weight guesstimate on this football trout... about 8#.

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