Thursday, December 25, 2014

Clear Cure Goo UV System

This was also under the tree this morning.  I am excited to try the UV system!  I have been going old school using nail polish etc.  This should really be great!

Three formulas came in the kit, flex, brushable and tack free.

Berkley Parametric PC-40

Merry Christmas everybody!  I woke up to my kids screaming "Santa Came!" at 5:00 a.m.  He DID come and he brought me a very nice 8' 8" Berkley Parametric (PC-40).  One of the holy grails of the smallmouth fly rod world.

Can't wait to get it out on the river!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kelly Galloup's Articulated Peanut Envy

I really like the dubbing spinner he uses on this pattern.  Flyfishtheozarks on YouTube does a very nice job with these flies and the videos.

Here is a link dubbing spinner I think he is using in the video.  Neat tool!

Kelly Galloup's Articulated Bottoms Up by Flyfishingtheozarks

This is a great tutorial!  Thanks to the people at flyfishtheozarks on YouTube.  

Rear Hook:
Hook: Gamakatsu B10s #2

Tail: Marabou

Body: Foam Popper Heads 

Hackle: Schlappen

Legs: Crazy Legs

Articulated Connection: Beadalon

Front Hook:
Hook: TMC 8089 #2

Body: Cactus Chenille

Hackle: Schlappen

Eyes: Pre-Painted Dumbell (because WHO wants to paint dumbell eyes???)

Duane Hada's Creek Crawler

I read about this one and found a tutorial online.  I'd hate to lose one of these on a rock.....pretty detailed pattern!

Get ready....the music is a little much on the video.


TMC 5263 Size 4
Lead Eyes Medium
Krystal Flash Rootbeer
Sili Legs Fire Tip Pumpkin/Orange
Mouth: Grizzly Marabou Sand
Carapace: Swiss Straw Cream
Underbody: Tan Wool
Body: Crawdub Tan
Claws: Soft Hackle Hen Ginger
Ultra Wire Small Red
Black Sharpie or permanent marker
2-part Epoxy or Clear Cure Goo

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Conolon Live Fiber F87

This rod was chemically stripped and modernized by a FFR member.  I really liked what he did with it, so I decided to buy it.  New cork, wraps and guides.  The metal ferrule was removed and a spigot ferrules was retrofitted.

It appears that Conolon Live Fiber F87's were made in the 1950's in Cost Mesa, CA.  I'll post more info once I find out more on the history.

Here is a link to the thread on Fiberglass Fly Rodders.

Here is a link to a Conolon | Garcia wiki so you can see the history of Narmco - Conolon - Garcia.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

1970's Yellow Fenwick Fly Rods

Photo courtesy of Whrlpool on
Over the past few years I have begun collecting vintage fiberglass fly rods.  Like just about everyone else who starts collecting I grabbed a few Fenwick rods on eBay.  Factory built brown/red rods continue to be a desirable, but the prices are rising quickly.  These days factory built rods can sell for hundreds of dollars depending on the model and a collectors willingness to part with cash.  These rising prices forced me to experiment with the lesser known yellow rods made in the 1970's.  The purpose of this blog post is to shed a little well deserved light on the history of yellow Fenwick rods and their usefulness on the water.

Before I begin, I want to steer all of you to (FFR).  I consider the Fiberglass Flyrodders site to be the the best single source for all things fiberglass fly rod and vintage reel.  All of the content for this post was taken from information provided by the growing number of member experts at FFR.

A gaggle of yellow rods with a lone red.  Photo courtesy of Fred1969 

Red or Yellow...What's the Difference?

As mentioned earlier Factory built (red) Fenwick's continue to be some of the best choices in the vintage fiberglass rod catalog.  In the 1970's Fenwick decided to offer a line of blanks for rod builders and enthusiasts to build their own rods.  In order to avoid confusion in the marketplace Fenwick went with a yellow color (although you will also find a few reds as well) and an FL designation over the factory built FF prefix.  The contrasting color and prefix differentiated what was factory built and what was home spun.

Get Ready For the Freak Show...

I think the idea to run a line of blanks for hobbyist was a great, but you'll find that some of the yellow builds on eBay to be nothing short of hideous.  Many of the rods have spinning rods guides, foam grips, loose guide wraps.....basically the rods tend to be poorly appointed.  Fenwick's name is still on every build, so you'd have to think their brand took a hit from the products flying out of beginners basements.  Here is an example of a detail you may find on eBay:

Reel Seat Screw and Monster Grip
Notice the size of the cork grip?  You need to be Andre the Giant to grip this rod.  How about the sheet metal screw holding the reel seat in place?  I bet the professional builders at Fenwick at the time were glad their name was on this blank!  Don't be fooled by the mis-matched and poorly appointed rods out there, they really are a diamond in the rough.

For Every Action There is a Reaction.

Fenwick FL786 (6'6" 6/7 weight)
 With a little patience you'll find examples of rods built by a people with taste, skill and style.  The rod above is absolutely flawless, even down to the custom rod tube.  This rod was purchased for just over $100, well worth every penny.

Fenwick FL102-7 (8'6" 7 weight) Old Yankee Rodsmith Build
Yellow Fenwick's are continuing to become more popular.  As a result, many quality builders are building respectable rods.  You may find what appears to be a real turd on eBay, but you can always strip off the guides and try your hand at tying on a better set.  Reel seats and grips are very easy to replace too!  In fact, I just purchased a rod off of eBay for $43 that has a loose guide.

So...What's Out There for Me?

The members at Fiberglass Flyrodders have a running list of rod's that they have seen in yellow.  This list is by no means comprehensive, so please let me know if you own rods outside of the list and I will add them.

I wish they were still $10.50
  • FL72
  • FL78-6
  • FL84-5
  • FL90-5
  • FL90-6
  • FL96-6
  • FL96-7
  • FL102-6
  • FL102-7
  • FL102-9
  • FL108-8
  • FL108-9
  • FL108-10
  • FL112-9
Model numbers read like this:

FL = Fly rod blank
Next 2-3 digits = Rod length in inches
Last Digit = Recommended line weight
FL78-6 = 78" (6'6"), 6 weight fly rod


All of this history and hype doesn't amount to a hill of beans until we talk a little about the performance of the rods.  Keep in mind this topic is very subjective.

The yellow Fenwick rods I own are on the heavier side, so I cannot speak to the virtues and characteristics of lighter "trout weight" rods on the list. The heavier yellows I won are powerful, but still have the soft, slow feel of glass.  I routinely toss #2 large poppers, 1/0 Clousers and even 2/0 reverse tied bucktails without a hitch.  The 2014 season yielded a few large fish all of them were landed with the FL102-7.  Here is a decent smallie I landed in early summer.

A decent fish on the FL102-7 with an 8 wt line

Fenwick FL78-6

I picked up a new Yellow Fenwick fly rod today.  The yellow Fenwick's from the 1970's are very nice.  This one is fairly short at 6' 6" and throws a 7wt line like a rocket.  Perfect for my little kayak.

The custom builder did a wonderful job on the rod.  Without a doubt one of my favorite rods.

I will be doing a post on the history of the yellow Fenwick rod family soon.  These rods are just an amazing part of fly fishing history.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Wright and McGill 32A Sweetheart

Catalog page from 1958

I picked up this 3-piece rod from a buddy, still had the plastic on the handle!  The rod really has a sweet feel.....probably why it was called the Sweetheart!

Here is some information about this rod from the Fiberglass Flyrodders site:

"This Sweetheart is an old lady born around 1958. Wright & Mcgill gave it the number 32A to differentiate it from it's brother 2A which is a two piece rod. Yours of course is a 3 piece. To the best of my knowledge they didn't make this model for very long although 2As are found all the time. At one time they were the best WM glass rod they made evidenced by the fact that only their best rods got metal instead of cardboard tubes. The 32A is marked for HDH line so it should handled a 6/7 wt line."

Browning Silaflex 322975

The Browning Silaflex has been my favorite fly rod for many years now.  A great friend of ours gave matching 322975 models to my boys a few years back.  At 7 1/2' they are perfect for wading and riding in the kayak.  My boys learned how to cast on them and they really are fantastic smallmouth rods.

I had an opportunity to grab one for myself last week.  God knows my boys won't let me use theirs!  These are very useful and handsome rods.  If you ever have a chance to pick one up you won't be sorry you did...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Snake River 9-20-14

Snake River (Looking east toward the St Croix)
We went up to the new spot on the Snake River today.  The water is high as they got 7 inches of rain in one evening just under a week ago.  The Snake was flowing pretty fast, but the temperature was surprisingly nice.  No fishing, spent the day clearing brush and hauling some trash that was accumulated at the rear boundary.

All in all a good day.  The kids shot pellet guns and caught frogs, the dogs ran for hours.  Great to see the dogs sleeping in the car on the way home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Heddon Imperial 125 Fly Reel

Stripped Heddon Imperial 125.  Photo by JeffSod
I was on the Fiberglass Flyrodders site a few months looking into old Heddon fly rods when the picture above popped up on the screen.  The reel immediately jumped out at me, so I posted an inquiry to find out what it was.

It ended up being identified as a Heddon Imperial 125 with the paint stripped off.  The reel originally had a black finish that was susceptible to scratching and wear around the edges.  A vintage Heddon Imperial in mint condition is shown below.

Mint Imperial 125 with original black finish.  Photo by Bulldog
The reel I found was stripped in a vinegar bath, re-oiled and waxed.  I actually like the bare finish over the painted one.

Can't wait to get this reel on the water!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Smallmouth Fly Box Property

My wife and I just signed a purchase agreement for a small piece of property on the Snake River.  Nothing fancy....just some raw property without a well or septic system.  A place to camp, kayak and fish with our boys.  

Driving down the dirt road to the spot
Small clearing off the road....needs some attention.
A little lawn mower and chainsaw work will make a big difference. 
View of the Snake Rive (East) towards the St Croix
View up river (West)
View of the shore structure
The Cross Lake dam project is complete upstream of the property, so the river looks really good.  The project the Minnesota DNR did on the dam looks fantastic.  Nice pools for spawning...

Cross Lake Dam Before (Photo Courtesy of
DNR overseeing the reconstruction process (Photo courtesy of the
Dam after project completion
View downstream from the reconstructed dam
Great smallmouth fishing right off the property.  Will be great to have a place to put down some roots and build some memories.