Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I heard a rumor...

...that there are people in the San Francisco Casting Club that don't actually fish. They practice fly casting for accuracy and distance but, never actually fish. Huh...?Wha...? How...? I can't even imagine learning all this technique just to avoid the whole point of casting a fly rod.

Every single bridge I drive over and every thread of water in my sight gets a look. You might be surprised where you can find fish and often trout.

I have had an exceptional bit of luck lately and have gotten to fish a lot. Really it comes from the fact that I have been working for a family member. He lives near a series of ponds, canals, and creeks. I have driven by all these waters numerous times and it wasn't until only recently did I really see their potential.

Example #1. I have been driving by a pond on my way to do some work. In my area almost all ponds are on private property so I just assumed this was the case as well. At closer inspection I realized this pond was fed by a irrigation canal and was actually a retention pond for the water. This means it is actually county land. No trespassing signs are absent and no barbed wire fences. FISHING A GO!!! I instantly got the vibe that this pond rarely gets fished. I didn't see any left over line, lures, weights, etc. but, I did see a lot of bluegill and some HUGE bass. So far fishing has been good and looking to explore it more.

Example #2 Further down the road in a larger canal I found some very large brown trout. Wait what? Ya some very healthy browns in irrigation canal (btw these are in the California foothills, not scuzy lowland carp canals). Even better when I peered over the side I saw the browns feeding on the surface. So far they are all in the 12" range. At first I felt like this place was a little crappy and without the romantic nature of most creeks and while that is true it has many positives. First big browns, second this water is clear and clean, next the high sides of the canal are actually a lot like a meadow stream, also these fish are wild pretty sure DFG is not planting browns much less in irrigation canals and lastly this place is on my way home. It gives me a chance to practice casting to very skittish fish with drys.

Example #3 There is a pond near a business park that looked prime for bluegill so I thought I would check it out. While there was a lack of No Trespassing signs I still didn't feel comfortable fishing with a lot of people driving in and out of the gate. This pond empties out under a small road then forms a pool before becoming a very shallow very narrow creek. Right away I saw bluegills in the pool  and with a few casts with the Tenkara I had some to hand.

So as I am casting around a bit I see some more slender looking fish in the pool. Knowing this is more a warm water sort of scenario I just assume they are bass or pike minnows. NOPE, sure enough in this one exclusive pool on a tiny creek there are wild trout. I wish I could have snapped a picture but, I was so enamored that I had found trout in such an unlikely place I quickly placed him back in the pool since I formed a deep bond with this little survivor very quickly. Wild finds like that are rare and special so I don't plan on targeting the trout again any time soon.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with a DIY blog? WELL it goes to show how some actually poking around in the places you live may yield some rather incredible results. I truly had to do this one myself. I have spent a lot of time online looking any information on these bodies of water and the quick answer is I have found a lot of nothing. Looking at these waters on maps and Google earth doesn't even look promising. But, without a guide, book, internet forum, fishy whisper or any other info I found some great little spots to get my fish fix. 

So my point is never underestimate any body of water especially close to home. Trust your fishy instincts and pull over where it is legal and peer over the guardrail hopefully you will see some tails.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

DIY bobbin threader and tenkara fly threader

I will bet all of us have some copper wire or other fine strong wire in our box of materails. If not or if you don't tie after this write up you may want to keep a small spool in your fishing bag. With it you can make a lot of very small, strong tools to help you at the vise or on the stream.

To make a bobbin threader just put a small loop in a piece of small gauge wire. Make the loop tight but, not so tight you can't put thread threw it with ease. Don't let the wire twist up because you will want to spread it apart below the loop. This will create a spring effect with the wire that allows you to put it through to bobbin pipe but, has the bounce back to open up and easily put the thread through. I wrapped up the extra wire on the end to make a small handle. I imagine a Popsicle stick would work well also. This is also a good solution when you realize you left your threader at home on a long fishing trip.

If you are new to tying flies and are thinking this is a tool you can skip. YOUR WRONG!! unless you have a lot of patience of which I have none. It is really hard to thread a bobbin without one. I am sure some long time commercial tier my disagree but, it is so cheap and easy to make one. Good luck and tightlines!!

BTW you might wonder why I have the words Tenkara fly threader up top. The real reason is I am shameless! I recently made a post about Tenkara and in a week it had more views that any of my other posts. So with only currently 218 blog views I am going to be a little shameless with the word Tenakara. At least until I get a few more hits. BTW I do love Tenkara and hope my blog helps spread it's use as another tool in your fishing toolbox.


I think it is important in these blogs that we authors share a few details about ourselves now and again. I think it helps us connect to our readers. That doesn't mean I am telling you my address or phone number unless you show up with a cooler of beer, a full gas tank and a secret spot you want to share.

So a short bit, I haven't been posting much (not that any one reads this thing yet) because I have been finishing up the details of a research project I have been working on for about a year and a half now. I recently graduated with my BS in Geology from Sacramento State. I did some research in the Klamath (of which I am sure you can see the benefit  and finally put a poster together to present at this years Geologic Society of America's Cordilleran section meeting in Fresno CA. If anyone cares you can take a look at my poster and research HERE.

It was a great experience to sink my teeth into some real research and culminate it in a concise poster.

Now what?? Well I have been looking for work for some time now and no luck. This slow California economy can kiss my ass!! So if you know anyone looking for a top level graduate with a BS in geology you know know where to find him!!


BTW some good friends of mine are having a wedding in some prime fishing territory this weekend. I love them even more now!! They'll be lucky if I make it to the ceremony haha.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chasing Blue Lines: Big Brookies in High Water

I really need to get out to the East Coast. Love these little brookies.

Chasing Blue Lines: Big Brookies in High Water: Yesterday I fished a stream that tends to handle rain well due to the recent storms we got Friday.  Central VA did not get much rain so I fi...

Friday, April 19, 2013


Orvis wants 2.25$ for a peice of craft for 3"x4.5" seriously?!?!?!?! Don't believe me? CHECK IT!!!

I am really amazed at the price gouging here. I recently pick up craft foam from Michael's for 0.89$ for a sheet 12"x18" that is 16 times the  square footage of foam for 2/5ths the price!!!! DAMN ORVIS as though the Helios 2 wasn't expensive enough.

Just goes to show that it takes a little looking around to find the right materials and save a few bucks.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dubbing wax from my junk drawer

Today I was tying up some soft hackle flys after watching Tight Line Productions video on a soft hackle emerger, see here (BTW Tight Line makes the best instructional videos I have found free on the interwebs. They do an amazing job of explaining everything and showing it in great detail without being boring or drawing on about how to turn the thread). The pattern calls for "touch dubbing" the dubbing mix to the line to give it that loose, buggy, shuck sorta look. Well I don't have any dubbing wax and seeing that I have no desire to go to the fly shop today (mainly because there is no such thing as just buying dubbing wax when visiting the fly shop) I needed to come up with a solution.

Chapstick my friends.

 I have been addicted to the stuff since I was a kid. I didn't want to use my usual stuff since it has a strong sent and is petroleum based so I went digging for an old tube of bee's wax based chapstick. Sure enough in my junk drawer I found a tube that had been through the wash so all of its scent was gone and its rather weird reconstituted nature meant no one was going to be using it again. Not surprisingly it worked perfectly. Dubbing wax is cheap but, this was free.

After coming up with my solution I looked up a few things and came across THIS use of a toilet wax ring for dubbing. This again required me to leave the house but, a sweet idea none the less.

Here is my take on the emerger. It's my take because this was the only soft hackle feather I had and the closest dubbing I had was to mix orange nylon made from yarn (see my previous post on that HERE) and some light tan dubbing. Also I was just given some turkey feathers from my brother and was eager to give those a spin.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tenkara really is the ultimate backpacking setup

It's true I have been bit by the Tenkara bug but, don't worry I have no intentions of going to the one fly method. There is something about a Tenkara rod that just feels DIY. I don't mean in its construction; that is actaully quite impressive for the money one of these setups costs. No, I mean in the simplicity of engineering and the overall basic just use what works idea of it.

I just got back from a two night backpacking trip with my girlfriend in Henry W. Coe State Park. I asked her to be my GF 6 years ago on a overnight trip to the same park so it was a fitting anniversary trip. Since Henry Coe SP has a lot of small ponds full of bass and blue gill and a few tales of rainbow trout I of course had to bring the Tenkara setup. I didn't have a lot of time to fish because we had miles to make and the GF can only sit and read a book or watch the birds for so long before she gets bored of me hassling the fish. This is where Tenkara really shines. I am overly cautious with my gear (since I seem to break it all the time) so I still kept the rod in its case inside my pack but, even with that I had my rod out and ready to fish in under 5 minutes.So a nice lunch break along the banks of a pond gave me a solid 20 minutes of fishing and with bluegill at the other end that still meant 5 -10 fish or so.

So why does Tenkara beg for such simplicity and DIY? Well it starts with the setup itself. Its just a collapsing rod with a small bit of string called a lillian at the end. Onto that you tie your line of choice, ferled, level, horse hair, etc. etc. then a small section of 5x tippet and finally your fly. That's it and you are ready to fish!! There is just something about such simple design and ease of use that make me want to come up with easy solutions and re-purposing of items to use with my Tenkara.

The first thing I made was a small fly box out of an altoids tin. Yes, yes I know everyone ever makes DIY thing's out of altoids tins but, it is hard to find such small useful and tough containers elsewhere. Easiest way to use the tin for a fly box is to just put the flys in it and close the lid. Which actually isn't a bad idea for a small stream where all you need is caddis flys, parachute adams and a couple copper johns. However, my fumbly fingers like well organized fly box and foam to hold them in place. I had an old sleeping pad (someone gave me!!) made of tough closed cell foam that I was just using as dog pads for camping so a few slices became recycled as a fly box insert. If I ever make another one of these I may see if I can cut ridges in the foam so the dry flys don't get crushed on the bottom.

So why is a small DIY fly box inspired by Tenkara? Well as you can see in this box I have a few of each style of fly. Some drys, some wet, wooly bugger some copper john looking things (these flys are from early on in my fly tying career). I have every style of fly I need to get at most fish. Tenkara begs for simplicity and one small box that fits in my pocket with a selection of everything I need is as about as simple as it gets.

One product that Tenkara sells call a line holder falls into the DIY column of only kinda worth doing on your own. At first glance it just looks like a spool with a little foam and a few notches. So I made my own as you can see below. It works, in that it holds my line; although it just doesn't function as well as the Tenkara USA made holder. A friend let me borrow one on our last fishing trip and they just function beautifully. No matter how you wrap, which end you start from or how you want to put that line on there is always a notch, foam bit or crevasse to make that line stay of the spool and allow you to travel with it. It is really designed to allow you to close up shop real quick (say in a backpacking situation) and move to the next spot. I like the challenge of DIY but, in the same way that a Tenkara rod is perfectly designed to do what it does so are these little over priced line holders.

Using an old tippet spool I made some small notches along the outside rim of the spool and some elongated slots for the fly to hook into. I also drilled small holes on the inside part of the spool to put the end of the level line in so it can easily be wrapped. Like I said it works but, no where near as good as the commercial product.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not DIY but, it's cheap and easy.

Unlike my ex this cheap and easy product is actually super useful and worth the money you spend on it. It is called Tenacious Tape made by Gear Aid. Its listed as a tent repair tape but, can really be used to fix just about anything made from synthetic fabrics, tents, raincoats, waders. etc. Best part is its waterproof! It comes in an easy to use and carry tube about the size of 2 C batteries end to end. I carry one in my sling pack all the time. This stuff isn't a quick duct tape style fix either it can really be used as a permanent fix.

I ripped my waders last October when I slipped on some volcanic rock and ripped a quarter sized hole in the butt of my waders. I took them off cleaned the dirt off the best I could and with my knife cut a square of the Tenacious Tape a bit bigger then the hole. I then made sure to press very hard all around the repair to really seat the glue into the fabric. Within 10 minutes I had a water proof permanent fix to my waders. The repair is still holding strong almost 6 months later. For 5$ this very versatile tape can't be beat. I have had this roll for about 4 years and it hasn't lost any strength and I still haven't used it all up.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I love small streams

I have found a video of my perfect fishing scenario. A beautiful stream no one thinks to fish while backpacking. I LOVE SMALL STREAMS!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bobbin holder

Recently I have been frustrated that all my tying materials are just spread out on a table. Being organized when trying to actually get things done is very important to me. So I'll post some of the things I have been putting together to keep things neat and tidy. First is an easy to make bobbin holder.

I just used some scrap wood I had that turned out to be just the right size. Next I drilled some small holes just about the size of some bbq skewers I had in a drawer. Then globbed on some wood glue on the skewers and put them in the holes. Wood glue is best but I'm sure any glue would do. Finely I sanded up the ends of the skewers just to clean the ends up a bit. Works quite well. Only thing I would change would be to actually measure the size of the bobbins before drilling the holes. I over estimated and could have put 1-3 more bobbins per racks.

Cheap easy dubbing

I wanted to tie up some stimulators last week but, realized I didn't have any kind of yellow or orange dubbing. I then remembered buying some orange yarn in hopes of using it for an indicator for slower water. I figured if I pieced apart the yarn I could use it to dub a fly.

First step is to get some yarn. I bought this at a thrift store for 1.50$ and have more orange yarn than I could use in a life time. I recommend cutting some from a friend/wife/mother's stash. Or do as I do when you need things and don't want to spend money post a message on Facebook asking if anyone wants to get rid of some things.

Next step is to cut a manageable piece of yarn. Using more than a foot or two at a time will get a little unwieldy.

 Yarn is just a series of twisted fibers and easy to to unwind. Separate the 3-5 different twisted strands.

 You should end up with 3-5 bundles of small fibers.

Next step is to collect the strings and cut them as short as you can. You should end up with a bunch of little 1/8 tufts of fibers. I left one of the strings I pulled apart to the side so I can just use it as yarn and tie with it later.

 Next put all the little tufts together and begin to pull them apart from each other. There should be some tension as you fluff and separate the fibers. You want to continue this until all the little tufts are gone and you end up with a little fluff pile.

All fluffed up and ready to dubb.

Here is the stimulator I tied with my DIY dub.

So you might be saying dubbing is cheap?!? Only 3$ a tiny little pack?!?! Ya well this was cheaper/free and it works quite well. A lot of people use a coffee grinder to speed up this process but, again that costs money and/or pisses off the wife.

Dryer lint is also a good dubbing material that is ready to go right out off the lint trap. A word of advise here is to use a garment that you just bought. I have three dogs which means every time I wash anything the lint trap is full of hair. A new sweatshirt or fleece jacket with help minimize the hair and you will get WAY more fuzz as well as, allowing you to be picky about the color you end up with.


Welcome to my DIY Fly Fishing blog. This will be a blog for the budget minded angler as well as, the DIY enthusiast. I don't plan on listing how to fish the salt flats on your own or plan your own trip to Patagonia. These posts will be about small projects to save some money, recycle/reuse/re-purpose items and enjoy creating useful things. So why did I start doing things DIY? Well I am broke!! I am out of work like so many other people in this country but, that doesn't mean I don't want to fly fish every minute of every day. This sport has (and will probably always) been a rich mans sport. I would love to see that change and this is my step towards that goal.

I'll leave you with a little video I put together. This video was shot on a creek about a 10 minute drive, 30 minute bike ride from my house. I LOVE TO TROUT FISH however, I will take any kind of fishing I can get and that is what I get on my local creek. It's full of bass, blue gill and lots of pike minnows. While its not entirely DIY the rod I am using in most of the film is my grandpa's old rod (he is 85 btw) so this rod has to be about 50 years old. We found it in his garage; the tip was broke, missing a guide and the wraps need to be touched up. It's and old Conolon Fanwing FW7103-710. So with a little work and about 20$ I fixed what needed to be done and took it for a spin. I LOVE THIS ROD, it is perfect for small streams since it loads so well; I can cast the leader alone. Just goes to show you don't HAVE to spend a ton to really enjoy what you do. Thanks!!

This video was shot with a Waterproof Kodak Play>Sport attached to a Gorilla Pod attached to my chest pack.