28 July 2009

ER's Got a Brand New Rod: Flyfishing the Big Hole River

Received a nice new flyrod earlier this year and got a chance to try it out yesterday on the Big Hole River (a half-hour south of Butte, Montana). Nice dry fly action, the rod fits nicely with leaping 15-inch rainbow trout and big (#10) purple haze dry flies:

For those who know the Big Hole, I was at my favorite spot in the canyon, in the Devil Rock run:

As friend Don Kieffer sayz, "One good turn deserves another." He sent me this rod (which he won in a raffle) after I gifted him a few tickets for a custom-made bamboo rod made by Jerry Kustich and the other "Boo Boys" at Sweetgrass Rods in Twin Bridges, Montana. They donated the bamboo rod to Butte's George Grant Trout Unlimited Chapter.

Oh yeah, Don won the Sweetgrass bamboo rod--every serious fly angler's dream.

Anyway, I was thrilled by the new Winston from Don. It's my second new rod in over 20 years. The last one was a first-generation graphite Orvis that Mrs ER gave me after I accepted a position teaching with the little college in Butte America. The old Orvis "Henry's Fork" has served me well: it's gone on a lot of backpacking treks (the case doubles as a hiking staff); still cast pretty well after I broke off the top guide trying to retrieve a snagged nymph by poking it with the rod (dumb move; lucky I lost only an inch or so and could easily replace the top guide); and survived several rowdy dogs & a few careless fishing buddies/vicious power windows.

Still, compared with new graphite rods, it was "low modulus" graphite: slow to load meant relatively low line speed and short distance casting. I've briefly used a few newer rods over the years, but never enough to fully appreciate how the technology has changed. Yesterday, I was quite surprised at the ease and accuracy with which I could lay out 40 feet of double-taper line with long 5X tippet and dry fly--even into the moderate wind.

Most years, I flyfish about 50 days--though thanks to faculty union bargaining and a research project, I'm WAY behind that this year. It felt SOOOO good to be on the water yesterday. Cool weather, enough mayflies around to keep the trout looking up, and -- thanks to good advice from Al Lefor at Great Divide Outfitters, I was armed with some large (#10s) of his favorite attractor mayfly--Purple Haze. Like the venerable Royal Wulff, it often seems to work in a size larger than the bugs on the water.

There is something deeply soothing in listening to the sound of a tumbling river, focusing on a spot of fur 40 feet away, and taking the occasional break to watch the dog play with a half-rotted deer leg...


troutbirder said...

Glad to read you had a great day on the Big Hole with you new rods. The graphites today, are indeed, sweet. I never fishing the canyon but camped and fished the area upstream near a concrete bridge. Fond memories of catching my only grayling there (maybe 1992), Often wonder if they still survive in that beautiful river.

Janie said...

Sounds like a great day on the river. I can identify with the dog playing with a half-rotted deer leg. Daisy loves those.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the baptism of the new rod. I'm glad you got some fishing in. With all the summit bagging and flower pictures, I was starting to worry about your casting arm :-) .

-scott c

secret agent woman said...

I'm not sure I entirely understood some of that, but I'm glad you've been geting in some good river fishing. Nice way to spend the time in summer.

Anonymous said...

A new winston, nice. I picked up a 5-piece some years ago and broke the tip last year. Drove down to Winston and they wanted 200 bucks to make a new tip. (I didn't keep the receipt those many years).

I find I prefer the low-modulus rods, my fav is a 5wt T&T I've had for decades.
Good luck, maybe see you on the river.
Mike on Broadway

~Sheepheads said...

Enjoy the Winston Vapor! A nice friend indeed. Great post. Going to have to look into the guys in Twin Bridges.

Janie said...

janie of janie and steve's utah trails is my better half so i have seen several of your posts including new fly rod post.
btw i share your interest in light packing[30 is my limit], passion for clear cold streams like the Big Hole, am also a shutter bug and wonder just how much more "management" the environment can take.

anyway,if that orvis is 20 yrs old i bet it falls under their old no questions asked replacement policy for broken rods. just break it over your knee, return and they send their current model for that size including a new reel per some of my old fly fishing buds.
one klutz bud broke his twice in same year.
my old standby is an Orvis i got on the cheap for joining the Sierra Club >10 yrs ago, a 4 piece,4-5 wt., 8.5 ft fast action travel rod, the Silver Series. it handles most any situation but i mostly stalk trout up close.
i was a bit curious that with bugs on the water and your experience and knowledge why float a purple Adams vs. naturals?
also with that new honey loaded with WF line, one size heavier than the rod, u could be throwing into another zip code. i quit double taper, even though can reverse, due to easier loading and penetrating stiff winds.
nice Bow, always good 'umpers.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

ER: Very neat post and I am certainly glad you got the new rod to catch your trout.
I really enjoye the song about Cuyahoga Falls you mentioned.