Thursday, January 28, 2016

Muddy Water? No Problem!

Yuba River Mud Bow

The Yuba is slowly recovering after getting blasted with 10,000+ CFS about a week ago. The water clarity was pretty low the first day I was there but it got a bit clearer the following day. Despite the clarity issues, I was able to find fish both days with relative ease. You just need to know where to look.

Fish close to the banks, look for seams, look for structure, and cover water. The basics.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Redington Zero 4/5 Fly Reel Review

Redington Zero Reel

The Redington Zero is a fairly new fly reel that was introduced in 2015. I recently purchased the Zero 4/5 for my TFO Finesse 5WT to match light rod to light reel.
Here are my thoughts about the Redington Zero.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How Do I Fish This: Big Chico Creek

Big Chico Creek

Big Chico Creek (BCC) begins its headwaters in the Colby Mountains where it flows 45 miles downstream to its confluence within the Sacramento River. BCC is one of the few tributaries of the Sacramento River that continues to remain undammed. Every year endangered spring-run chinook salmon and steelhead can be found holding within Upper Bidwell Park's deep basalt pools waiting to spawn in the fall.

BCC runs through the town of Chico and Bidwell Municipal Park making it easy to access for both new and veteran anglers. The lower watershed is primarily a summer smallmouth fishery although trout can be found throughout the creek during the winter and spring. The upper watershed is a small stream that is home to both wild rainbow and brown trout.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Aquatic Insect Aquarium Set-Up

Here are my specs for how to set up my aquatic insect aquarium:
I bought all my equipment from Petsmart.

Top Fin 5.5 Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit
This aquarium comes with a filter, hood, LED hoodlight, and tape temperature thermometer. This starter kit is a very nice set-up but I don't they they sell them anymore.

A smaller aquarium helps make managing the temperature a bit easier and it takes up less space.
I am currently using tape to hold up the LED because I got rid of the hood. Getting rid of the hood helps keep the temperature lower due higher evaporation levels.I've taken out the filter sponge so that if a bugs gets sucked into the filter they won't get stuck.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fly Tying - Hero Sculpin

Hero Sculpin

Look in the water! It's a sculpin! It's a darter! It's Hero Sculpin!
Here are the instructions on how to tie the Hero Sculpin.

Hero Sculpin

Material List:
Owner - Red SSW 5311 - size 4 or 6
Daiichi - 2546 Saltwater Hook - size 2
Black Barred Rabbit Strip - Olive
Marabou Plume - Olive
Senyo Laser Yarn - White
Fishskull Sculpin Helmet - Small Olive
Senyo Intruder Trailer Hook Wire - Standard Black
Danville's 70 Denier Thread - Red

Fly Tying Instructions:
Step 1

Step 1 - Start with the trailer hook. Pull both ends of the intruder wire through the top of the eye. As the wire forms a loop, pull the hook through the loop and pull the wire tight. The wire should be pointing down not up.

Step 2

Step 2 - Start your thread and make a few wraps around the wire so that it stays in place. Tie in your rabbit strip in the middle of the shank. Be sure to split the hairs before securing the rabbit strip. Wetting the fibers helps make splitting the hair easier. Whip finish near the eye of the hook.

Take a bodkin and dap a bit of Zap-A-Gap to the bottom where all the thread is to make sure everything stays in place.

Step 3

Step 3 - Take off the trailer hook and begin the body hook. Any straight eye short shank hook will do. In this tutorial I am using a garbage Daiichi hook that I forget the name of. A size 2 saltwater hook will work as well.

Step 4

Step 4 - Start your thread. Before wrapping in the wire, make sure that both ends of the wire are parallel to each other and not twisted. Cut off any excess wire that goes past the eye of the hook. Make several tight wraps and stop the thread at the bend.

Step 5

Step 5 - Secure the rabbit strip. Fold the excess up, you will be using this strip later. 

Step 6a

Step 6a - Cut two small pieces of rabbit strip. You will be using these two small pieces for the pectoral fins.

Step 6b

Step 6b - Bottom View

Step 6 - Rotation

Step 6b - Begin by wrapping the first small strip to the side of the hook shank with two tight wraps.  Wrap the second small strip to the opposite side. Once both strips are tied in make a few more wraps to secure.

Step 7

Step 7 - Fold in one of the small rabbit strips and secure it at the end. Fold in the second small strip on the opposite side. Try not to trap any fibers during this folding process. Once both small strips are folded, make a few tight wraps around both ends to secure.

Step 8

Step 8 - Pull the original top rabbit strip over the top of the hook shank and secure with a few tight wraps. Your fly should look like this.

Step 9

Step 9 - Tie in a clump of white laser yarn to the bottom of the shank. Be generous with the amount of laser yarn you use, more is better than less. Pull back and shape the yarn so that it forms a tapered belly. Make a few wraps to secure the yarn.

Step 10 - Tie in a clump of olive marabou to the top of the fly. Stack another clump of marabou to the first clump. There should be two clumps total. 

Step 10

Completed Body

After tying in the marabou tear off any long excess and begin building your thread for the sculpin helmet.

Try your sculpin helmet to make sure it cinches nice and tight. If it doesn't fit tight continue building your thread until it does. Once the helmet fits tight, whip finish.

Step 11

Step 11 -  Put no more than two drops of Zap-A-Gap to where the helmet is going to fit then put on the helmet. Push back the helmet to ensure that there is enough space between the helmet and the eye of the hook.

Step 12

Hero Sculpin

Step 12 - Secure the helmet by wrapping some thread around the eye of the hook. Zap-A-Gap this thread so that it doesn't fall apart.

Step 13

Step 13 - Cut off the body hook. I use a wire cutter. Flip the fly over and use a red permanent marker to color in the throat of the fly. Finished!

How to fish the Hero Sculpin

The Hero Sculpin is designed to stripped across the current to imitate a fleeing sculpin. The Hero Sculpin will pulsate between the pauses of the strips therefore by adjusting how fast you strip in your line you can change the look of your presentation. This fly is my go to streamer pattern. My favorite places to use the Hero Sculpin are the Yuba River and Putah Creek.

Extra Information
Bam! The Hero Sculpin Defeats a Yuba Bow
Wham! A Putah Creek Beastie Landed
Pow! Right In A MFFR Bow's Mouth

When I first began fishing streamers I had a hard time finding which pattern to use. There were almost too many to choose from and I had zero confidence in all of them. Having no knowledge of which patterns worked around my area, I ventured to the local fly shop and picked up a few streamers that looked promising. My streamer success started with a pattern called the Sculpzilla.

The Sculpzilla is an awesome pattern that worked in nearly all situations. The pattern does an excellent job at imitating both sculpin (derived from its name) and baitfish. After catching a few nice trout with the sculpzilla, I fell in love the pattern and wanted to start tying my own. I became very frustrated when I found out how many different materials it took to fly this pattern. Although I was able to tie a few Sculpzilla, it looked nothing like the one I had bought from the fly shop. This is when I decided to come up with my own streamer pattern that worked well and was easier to tie.
Here are some fun facts about the Hero Sculpin.
  • Many sculpin patterns are tied with the hook point riding up. Although I've tried fishing these type of patterns I've always had a hard time getting a solid hook-up. I find that sculpin patterns that ride hook point up are better suited for predatory fish that fully engulf their prey like largemouth bass. This is why the Hero Sculpin is tied with a trailer hook.
  • When I first started tying the Hero Sculpin I tied it about 4''- 5'' long. I have since reduced the fly to a shorter 2'' - 3''.
  • A lot of sculpin patterns tie the rabbit strip "fin" to the side of the hook. Although it looks great outside of water, it loses it's profile when in the water. When tied this way the fin fuses with the body of the fly rather than keep its shape. With the Hero Sculpin, I fold the rabbit strip fin in order to keep the profile and give it extra movement.
  • My preferred color for this pattern is olive. Although I've tried different color combinations such as barred tan and brown, I've had the most hook-ups with the olive.
  • The Hero Sculpin gets its name from the "cape" marabou that is tied behind the sculpin helmet.
  • A lot of sculpin patterns require a ton of materials to be able to tie. I believe the less materials needed to tie the fly the better. Some of the greatest patterns ever invented use very few materials for example the woolly bugger, pheasant tail, and clouser.
  • The Hero Sculpin has gone through a few ugly renditions...

Early Design of the Hero Sculpin

Friday, January 15, 2016

How I Fly Fish Streamers In NorCal Waters

Streamer Eater

Streamer fishing is one of the least used tactics I see anglers using when I'm on Northern California water. Many anglers live and die by the indicator and although they may catch a lot of fish, they lose out on one of the most dynamic and fun ways to fish.

It's Still January

Looks Like Rain

Rain on. Rain off. Not a whole lot of fishing going on for me right now but it's all good. As of right now I am waiting for some new gear to come in the mail. I ordered a Battenkill IV reel and the new Redington Zero 4/5 Reel with a line to match it.
I'm just here staring at bugs and swinging flies for steelies from time to time.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

For Science!

Swingin On The Feather
One of my goals this year is to learn how to throw dry flies and swing flies with better success. I've been doing the latter a bit with some luck however I can't say I've gotten the hang of it yet. One of my other goals was to learn more about fly fishing in general and with that being said I've gotten rid of my neon tetras in favor of aquatic insects.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Starting The Year Right!

Rocky North Coast

The missus' is a New Year baby and for her birthday this year we decide to take a trip to the coast. We both had a lot of fun exploring the gigantic redwoods and roaring saltwater coast. I tried some surf fly fishing for the first time but got skunked. Hit and miss, winter fly fishing at its finest!