We've all been there before, you are all jacked to go fish and you jam your rod sections together perhaps a shade too tight. Another thing that often happens is that your rod is put together properly, but your hands at the end of the day are all tired, wet, and "prune mui" and you just can't get a good grip on those thin sleek graphite sections to pull them apart. In both of these instances no odd, rod behind the butt yoga positions or rod tug of war with assorted fishing buddies has worked better and more often for me than the surgical tubing.
Making the surgical tubing grip is beyond ridiculous easy.
Step one - Get surgical tubing. I like to have two diameter sizes one for the smaller section of rod one for the bigger section though I'm not sure if it really matters.
Step two - Cut the tubing into six inch pieces
Step three - Cut a slit along the length of each piece.
Done. Throw it in your fishing bag or car and go fish. When you need it, simply stick each rod section in the slit on both sides of the stuck ferrule, grip and pull. I am pretty sure you will be amazed at how well this simple tool works and how often you will actually end up using it.
...and that's your tools for Tuesday.
Nippers are one of those basic tools that all fly fishers must have and use all the time but are often overlooked. There are many brands and styles of nippers that range from the dollar store nail clipper to high end ones that cost over a hundred bucks like the Abel or Hatch nippers. All of these serve the same function, to cut monofilament or fluorocarbon when tying leaders or knots on flies. Some of the more expensive ones can also be used to cut backing or braided line cleanly, but that is generally not what they are made for and there are much better tools for doing that.
In freshwater most any good nippers will work. Sometimes super light tippets will require more precise nippers to do the job effectively but for the most part, any nipper will cut. Saltwater fishing requires not much more in terms of cutting ability than freshwater, but quite a bit more when it comes to corrosion resistance. I'll use and have used just about any nipper for freshwater but when it comes to saltwater work, I definitely have a preference. My favorite nipper for saltwater for years has been the Anglers Image Line Clipper. It has been my favorite mainly for its sharpness and its corrosion resistance. The saltwater environment in Hawaii is no joke and will test any metal exposed to it. These nippers have done exceptionally well for me and why we have always made it a point to offer them in the shop.
Made in Japan, the Anglers Image Line Clipper claims to cut from 1/2lb. mono to 100lb. plus and I have cut all of that and more with these nippers over the years. They have also been by far the most corrosion resistant nippers I have used. There are very few metals that will not ever rust in a saltwater environment and these nippers will eventually rust, but with a little care the Anglers Image Line Clipper will stay sharp and rust free for years. Also rust on these things does not equate to unusable. I have one of these that is completely rusted on the inside but still cuts like the day I got it.
There are a few things I like to do to keep my Anglers Image Line Clipper in good shape and ready for action.
TIP#1 To increase the corrosion resistance of these nippers, hit them with some T-9 Boeshield or Corrosion Block BEFORE taking them out in the salt for the first time. This will keep them corrosion free much longer. After that a good rinsing in freshwater and drying after every day on the water and an occasional reapplication of a corrosion inhibitor will keep them going for a long time. I personally really like the T-9 Boeshield. I was first introduced to this product back in the early 90s by the guys at Kaufmanns Streamborn and have been using it on just about every metal piece of fishing gear ever since.
TIP#2 Eighty-six the bead chain attachment, This little chain loop, unlike the nipper itself is not at all corrosion resistant. I replace it with a short piece of fly line looped at both ends that I then attach to my sling pack.
TIP#3 Break the pin off. I rarely use the pin on any nipper. Most times for me if I need to clear a hook eye, it is easier and quicker to use the hook point of another fly to clear a clogged hook eye than to use the pins that are a feature on most nippers. The Anglers Image Line Clipper does have a pretty neat retractable pin design, however, the pin tends to work its way out and stab things (like fingers) at inopportune times. It is also generally the first place that corrosion will start to take hold. Two good reasons why you may want to remove it too.
One last thing to think about when looking for a nipper. You can go with the nail clipper or fly shop econo nipper for the low cost, or the Anglers Image Line Clipper for the corrosion resistance and long life, or the high end Abel or Hatch nippers for the cuts anything ability, prestige, and cool factor. They will all cut the tag ends of your knots just fine. Keep in mind though that NONE of them have a fool proof "anti-loss" feature. To be totally honest, I don't think I have never used a pair of nippers cheap or otherwise until they no longer worked. I have lost more than my share on the flats, streamside, in the parking lot, in the car, or even in my house. There is a good possibility that there is still a very nice Abel nipper residing at the bottom of Crescent Lake... don't ask me how I know that.
...and that's your toolz for Tuesday.
Before I get into this, let me just say that I am by no means a vintage rod historian or expert. I am but a lowly amateur enthusiast who loves having and fishing this kind of stuff.
I was digging through the stash to find what rod to fish next and pulled out this Sage 476SFL. Not sure how many Sage rod fans out there know this but in the company's early years, after the company name was changed from Winslow to Sage, they produced a small line of fiberglass fly rods. The model SFL.
From what I have learned over the years, the SFL line was offered from 1978 or 79 to 1983. The "S" stood for S-glass and the "FL", I assume, stood for fly. I believe there was a SSP model which were spinning rods. S-glass was the fiberglass material that was poised to take over the rod manufacturing industry from E-glass had it not been for graphite. Apparently the Sage SFL was offered in line weights 4,5,6,7,9, and 12. The lengths were from 7'6" to 9' depending on the line weight. All were two pieces with one three piece 6wt model. They were offered in factory built rods and as rod blanks. This was right at the very end of the fiberglass era of fishing rods and when the graphite era was ramping up, thus the rod line was short lived. Well, short lived for those days. These days four to five years is about the normal life span of a fly rod model largely due, for better or for worse, to today's marketing climate.
I am fortunate to have a 476SFL in my arsenal. It is a fantastic casting rod! The action is on the faster side of glass rods showing that even back in the day Sage tried to push the envelope of fast action fly rods. The 476SFL has great casting range for a shorter length 4wt. and can cast a country mile if you need to or want to just for fun. When casting this rod you can almost feel the beginnings of the "reserve power" that would later put Sage permanently at the forefront of the high end fly rod market.
A very sweet, smooth, and soulful sage rod that is every bit as sharp looking as current Sage rods. The Sage SFL factory rods and custom rods built on blanks are pretty hard to find on the vintage market today and when they do show up they are often at "are you crazy" prices. Unfortunately, because of timing and the fact that at the time of its production Sage also offered a line of their early graphite rods, I don't think that many SFL's were produced or sold. Either that or they sold a ton of them but everyone who has one is hanging on to them till they die. I know I'm hanging on to mine!
... and that's your Friday fiberglass. Now on to something more adult and productive.
The fly for today is the Leggy Boi. It has been very popular among the local anglers lately, so here is how it is tied.
Hook: Mustad C47SNP or Mustad S71SNP sz.2 and 4. Actually like most all bonefish patterns any saltwater fly hook will do. Each will give the fly a slightly different size, shape and body proportion depending on the hook properties. I use the C47SNP to get a slightly shorter, rounder fly profile and the S71SNP for a slightly more elongated look. I don't think the fish care one way or the other.
Thread: Your favorite tan or brown thread. I like Danville flymaster plus 140 in beige and dark brown.
Eyes: Plain lead dumbell eyes. Size dependent on desired sink rate. This one will be a size 4 primarily for calmer shallow shin to knee deep water. For this I like the extra small size. For a size 2 and for deeper water or water with more current, I will use a size small lead eye.
Tail and Wing: Tan or brown crimped wavy synthetic fiber. There are a number of this type of fibers available including fuzzy fiber, deadly dazzle, super hair, unique hair, ep fiber, farrar blend, etc.. They all work great for this fly.
Body: Tan or brown dubbing.
Legs: Tan or brown barred sili legs and clear "firecracker" sili legs. Firecracker is what people in Hawaii call the clear soft plastics with the red and blue flakes in it in case you are wondering what I am talking about.
Other Things: Sharpie pen
Ok., here we go...
Step 2: Tie in synthetic fiber tail a little longer than the length of the hook shank. TYING TIP - Measure fly parts using your vise. You probably tie with the same vise almost all of the time and chances are you put different sized hooks in about the same location in the vise jaws. You can use this set up to come up with quick references for measuring materials. For example, I know from experience that I like the tail of my bonefish flies to be a certain length and I find that length consistently by measuring the material from the dumbell eye to the end of the cam lever on my Nor-vise. Works every time and is extremely quick. Find short cuts like that and you'll be tying faster and more consistently guaranteed.
Step 4: Fold the forward pointing part of the sili leg back and secure with a few thread wraps.
Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the other half of the sili leg strand on the other side of the tail creating four "legs" pointing rearward.
Step 6: Twist, or make a dubbing loop of dubbing for the body. I use a Nor-vise and it makes this step ridiculously easy compared to traditional methods. If you have never seen how to dub a fly body with the Nor-vise, I strongly suggest you check out this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39xvJCfd4Js. It really is as easy as it looks in the video. If you like tying flies with dubbed bodies, the Nor-vise is a life changer. Check it out at the shop.
Step 7: Dub the body ending a little behind the eyes. Do not dub all the way to the eye, you need to leave space to tie in more sili legs. After all, this is the leggy boi.
Step 8: Cut a strand of clear "firecracker" sili legs in half and tie the legs in on each side of the fly in front of the dubbed body.
Step 9: Add more dubbing to the thread and dub the space where the front legs are tied in. Start by wrapping the dubbing right behind the legs where your initial dubbed body ended. Then wrap the dubbing between the legs pointing back and forward (where you tied the legs in). Lastly dub in front of the legs pointing forward and right behind the lead eye.
Step 10: You can leave the front legs sticking straight out if you like. I like to pull the front legs back and take a couple more wraps of dubbing over the legs so that they point backwards a little.
Step 11: This is optional and totally up to you but you can cross wrap the dubbing over the lead eyes at this point. I almost never do this and prefer to just leave the thread wraps over the lead as is. I think the fly sits better that way when fished. Sometimes dubbing over the eyes can make the fly not sit flat and roll over.
Step 12: Take a clump of synthetic hair that is about half as thick as you want the wing. Measure it out so that it is as long as or just a touch longer than the tail. Do not cut it. Instead just tie it in at that point.
Step 13: Fold the forward facing part of the wing back and tie down with thread wraps. Synthetic winging material like this is often very slick and tying the wing this way prevents the material from pulling out. Trim the longer part of the wing that was just folded back. Build up a neat thread head and whip finish.
Why measure the wing in step 12 instead of just tying it in anywhere then trimming the entire wing to the appropriate length? You certainly can do that. I like measuring and tying in half the wing then trimming the folded back part because I want to minimize the amount of the material that needs to be cut. The less of this type of synthetic material you have to cut to shape the wing, the less chance you will cut the material too straight and end up with an unsightly chawan cut wing.
Finished leggy boi. Tie one up, tie it on, and go show it to some local bones. You'll be glad you did.