Monday, November 12, 2012

A big Teeny line

Recently I got my grubby little paws on a “Kayak” specific fly line.  I was wondering what this meant.  I have used a lot of different types of fly lines but never one for a “Kayak”.   I loaded it up on a reel and did a little research.  

Captain Pat Horrigan from Florida came up with the idea and went to Jim Teeny Fly lines and they worked together to come up with a fly line designed for kayak fishermen to be casted form a seated position.   According to the website and Capt. Horrigan, "I designed the new Kayak Fly Line for our contestants. They seemed to have a tough time throwing feathers while seated in their yak. Not everyone has a stand-up kayak and I wanted to help promote both kayak angling and fly fishing. Kayak fly fishing is most stealthy way that there is to get close to spooky fish on the flats and the new Kayak Fly Line now will allow anglers to throw a 50 shoot with only one back cast."  

This peeked my interest and I wanted to see for myself.   I spooled the line onto my Okuma SLV 78 reel and thought about the line.  It seems to have a heavier head to the line, a lot like a shooting head but it was about 50’ long.  It did not feel heavy like some of the shooting heads do.  You can kinda feel the line is heavier, but this felt like a normal fly line.  I grabbed my March Brown Distance 8wt and went outside.   I dumped the line out and started to false cast.  At first it was clunky and felt really heavy, I only had about 20 feet of line out so I let a little line shoot and had the shooting head just out of the tip top and the line really came to life.  I let the line drop and stripped a bit back in.  I picked it up and threw a quick double haul and the line shot through the guides smoothly and gave me that “thump” at the end that said, “I want more”.  I spent about 30 minutes casting this line trying to throw 50’ feet with one back cast.  Well since the head is 50’ long, it performs as advertised.  I was able to throw the entire head of the line pretty easily.   I was able to dump the entire line and about 10 feet of backing through the tip top easily.  I was doing all of this standing up so I sat down and went through the same process.  I achieved the same results from a seated position.  

Now that I had seen the legs on this line I wanted to see the short game.   While this line is great for casts out to 30 feet and beyond it is not as good at short shots.   At ranges from 10-25 feet the line casts great but the aggressive head causes the line to really slap down on the water.   Here in my home waters, that is gonna spook a redfish pretty easy.  Now at ranges beyond 30 feet the line performs well and does not slap the water anywhere as hard and lands like any other shooting head line and soft enough to not spook fish.  

Again, this is not a short cast line.  I thought this may be caused by the rod.  The distance is a mid-flex rod and is a little soft.  I decided to try it on a few other rods. 
I casted the line on a group of 8wt rods, as the line is only available in 8wt right now,  namely the Hardy Proaxis ,  Sage Xi3, Sage Approach , Sage TCX , a TFO BVK,  and, TFO Professional II.  I work in a fly shop so it was a good excuse to go out back and play.  Of course the shop neighbors always look at me like a lunatic siting on the ground in a parking lot casting a fly rod.

The Xi3 stood out and really liked this line.  The stiffer rods seem to cast this line better.  While all the rods will still give you a quick long shot, the stiffer tip rods really make it sing.  I didn’t find any of the rods made a better short cast.  They all still gave the hard presentation and slap at the end but the casts out past 30-feet all landed soft enough.  None of the rods gave me a bad cast with this line.

The line performs pretty much as advertised.  This is not an all-purpose line though.  If you want to make shorter shots at fish you need to have a second rod rigged up and ready to go.  For places like Florida where you have big expanses of flats and even around here out away from the creeks it will be a help, especially in the coming months when the water clears up and the fish get spookier and longer casts are required.  

I do warn you, this is also not a line to spool up and go fish.  Spend a little time casting it and learning how it responds.  If you are looking for a line to get your cast out while sitting down I encourage you to check out this line.

Tight lines ya’ll!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thank You Mr. Hardy

 If you are fly fisherman the name Hardy rings a bell.   The story goes in 1872 a pair of young men set up shop in Alnwick England.  There they were known as gunsmiths, whitesmiths and cutlers.  In 1874 they grew the company to include river and sea fishing tackle.   In 1891 the first Hardy Perfect was born.   This was a superior reel that is still in production today, a feat no other manufacturer can challenge to this day.   Through the years they expanded into making rods as well.  Some of the finest bamboo rods passed under Mr. Hardy’s careful eye.  He was even known to destroy an entire day’s work of a rod builder if he found even the tiniest mistake on any of the rods the employee had made.   This tough as nails adherence to the highest quality control is still in place today although I don’t think they destroy a day’s work anymore. 
Now that you know a little about Hardy, I wanted to share my experience with my new Hardy Proaxis  8’10” 8wt one-piece rod.  I had heard about one piece rods and know they existed but after laying my eyes on one I fell in love.  Then I casted it and I was hopeless.  I had to have one.   Eventually, I became the proud owner of one and gingerly loaded it for the trip home.  The 9ft rod tube is a little hard to hide from the wife and a little bulky for traveling but this is not a travel rod.  I immediately took it out of its case and sock and I felt like Arthur drawing Excalibur from the stone.   I was amazed at the lightness of the rod.  I grabbed a reel with WF8wt line and headed out to the backyard.  As I shook out about 20 feet of line and started to false cast the rod came to life.  I have never casted a rod that loaded so fully and so quickly.  I was a little timid at first, I didn’t want to break my new rod, and then, I remembered this is a Proaxis. 
Besides having a solid worldwide warranty it is also made with a composite material called SINTRIX™.  SINTRIX™ is carbon fiber held together with a resin impregnated with silica nano spheres. This technology is new and produces a material that is significantly stronger and potentially lighter than traditional carbon fiber, and Hoo boy I am here to tell you they got right with the Proaxis. 
I put my man jammies on and casted the rod with no fear and I really wanted to see what this rod had in it.  I started out with soft gentle casts at short range and was able to lay line out effortlessly.  The titanium recoil guides let the line shoot smoothly through them and even though the line I was using was an old line with oyster scars and some scuffs in it, the line still shot like it was brand new.  Even though I was taking it easy I could feel this rod really wanted to shoot more line.  It felt like a caged animal in my hands.  Enough with the short casts I wanted to see this rod really walk.   I stripped all the fly line I had off the reel and carefully piled it at my feet.  I started my false cast and the rod ate line like potato chips.  Even though I had a good 60 feet of line in the air the rod loaded and unloaded a beautiful loop.  I let the line shoot and as the line disappeared from the pile at my feet through the guides it laid out in a perfect line and I still felt the “thump” as the line came tight to the reel.  This rod wanted more.    I stripped off backing and casted again and all of the fly line and about 10 feet of backing sailed through the tip top guide like it was magic.   I am not a big proponent of long distance casting, especially with my accuracy but I did want to see what it would do. 
I put all the backing and most of the fly line back on the reel and started playing around.  Again I started out easy at short distances as I tried to double haul 30 feet of line. The rod picked up the line and loaded it effortlessly.   I dropped out about 45 feet of line and the same result.   At 60 feet I figured it might not be as good and while it did not load as quickly as the shorter lengths it did pick up the line and did cast it right back out.   I was very impressed with this rod.  The subtraction of the ferrules does make the rod lighter by the simple fact there is less material but the SINTRIX™ fiber is so light and strong it is truly amazing.   As I casted the rod I began to really cast it hard.  I could hear a Scotty’s voice in my head, “Cast it like you are trying to break it”.   I did just that.  I drove this rod like I stole it and it performed even better.  With a hard back cast and a sharp snap of the rod as I stopped it forward the line still loaded quickly and evenly and shot out of the guides like a scalded cat.  This rod has some cajones and it’s not afraid to show ‘em to ya.  Now it was time to break it in right, on some redfish.
I met a friend early Saturday morning and we hit the water.  I had the Proaxis loaded with a Royal Wulff Bermuda Shorts line and we motored to a spot.    After the sun came up we found a school of redfish and started the hunt.   Before the sun was really up I threw a gurgler towards the bank and had a few small blowups but no hook-ups.  The line was singing through the guides even better with the aggressive shooting head of the line.  The sun started to peek up over the horizon and Andy poled his Maverick down the bank.   I made a few casts with a shrimp pattern and the redfish gave me the middle finger.  As I stripped the fly in I felt a little pressure and set the hook.   I felt like I had a dishrag on the end of the line and it turned out to be my first flounder on the fly.  A quick flip and he was unhooked and back in the water to grow up and I changed flies.   The next fly was greeted with the redfish middle finger again and Andy told me the secret weapon for this area.  I tied one on and we found a good sized school.  I casted into a pocket and after two strips I felt a tug.  I swept the rod back low and right and felt the line pull away as the line quickly made its way onto my reel.  After a short fight, a smaller slot sized red was in the boat.  I wanted to get one of the bigger ones we had seen cruising the bank.   We found the merge of two schools and saw where they were milling around.  I made a few casts and then I felt pressure on the line.  I swept the rod back low and to the right again, no trout setting for this kid today, and felt the fish come tight.  Now that Ms. Redfish knew she was hooked it was on.  I heard Scotty’s voice in my head again, “try to break it, I dare ya”.  I put the heat to this fish, hoping my 20# leader would hold, so I gave her an extra stick and pull and the fish ran, the rod bent and the drag sang.  A few times I put more pressure on the fish to turn him and the rod bent and never felt like it was anywhere near too much. 

After a few more minutes of rod bending-drag peeling runs the fish tired a little and we were able to boat him.   Andy scooped her up and handed her to me for a quick photo.  Near my personal best on the fly, I was stoked.   

We cruised up and down the bank as the tide came in and eventually made our way to another spot where we found a few reds DEEP in the grass but none we were able to cast at.   We did find about six big bonnet heads working an oyster bar and we chased them around for a while with no luck before we headed in.  

All in all it was a stellar Day.  Of course if you'd like to check out a Proaxis for yourself we have them in stock at the Lowcountry Fly Shop,  Tight lines and screamin drags to ya'll!!!