Tuesday, January 31, 2023

01.31.23 Checked out the new Orvis Pro Waders.....

     Made my way to the Orvis Princeton store and chated it up with a visiting Andrew Hamilton. While there I checked out Orvis new Pro Zip Bootfoot waders. Below is the description right off the Orvis website...

The Story

The industry’s most durable breathable wader, now with a bootfoot of vulcanized rubber over 5mm neoprene with grid-fleece-insulation for boat-bound anglers, guides and the hearty souls that push through abysmally cold winter conditions. Twice as abrasion-resistant as comparable waders and with nearly 2x the puncture-resistance thanks to an exclusive 100% CORDURA® fabric with four layers in the upper and five layers in the lower. In another excusive partnership, the studdable Michelin® outsole provides best-in-class wet rubber traction. We’ve even tested the TIZIP® Masterseal zipper for more than 200 days to ensure failsafe waterproof performance alongside the zip wader’s easy on/off convenience. If you’re thinking these were designed specifically for those who require the height in season-after-season reliability, you’re definitely onto something. On the upper, we’ve included split, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, two external storage pockets with YKK AquaGuard® coated zippers, and split Hypalon® daisy chain for tool docking. Inside are two internal storage pockets for fly boxes and accessories. Adjustable elastic suspenders with opposing buckles for waist-high conversion. The five-layer lower incorporates removable OrthoLite® X25 knee pads. The bootfoot sole also features the same Bloom™ technology outsole/midsole as our PRO Wading boot, which replaces petroleum-based foam with an algae-based formula and actually offsets 50 gallons of water waste per pair. Athletic Fit.

Nylon shell with polyurethane membrane. Nylon tricot liner. Imported.

22 sizes M-XL including short and long sizes, with boot sizes from 9-13. Boots fit true to size.

     There are only a few bootfoot manufacturers out there, with Simms most likely being the gold standard of the industry. Simms waders are listed for $899.95 cents, which if you don't know, is really $900. Orvis Pro Zip are offerred for $898, which is also $900. I know there are others, from LL Bean to Frogg Toggs, and ones in between. 

      So I was able to fit test the size 12 Large. I know I'm a size 11 and that the size 12's would be too large. As far as the waders are concerned, you can see I'm probably too big for a medium and too small for an extra large. The zipper down the front is a welcome addition. There are also internal removeable knee pads that can be removed. The boots are a little different, falling somewhere between the 

old Herman Munster Muck Boots and then later the Vibram soled Endura waders. You have to try these on for fit, in my opinion. They are more narrow than I have seen with boots in the in the past, but the support is there. I need to purchase a back-up pair for my Simms G3's, which have arrived at Bozeman for warranty repair. 

     While there I snooped around and found a brush offered by a company called FairFlies. The brush is called 5D Brush. For $10 I thought it might be worth a shot. I'm running out of black bucktail, the Squimpish materials to long for me, and I didn't grab a black Squimpish brush while at the show. These might be a good length to finish off the heads of my night time flies. 


01.31.23 Going to join up with Gray Fishtag Research....

     Over the last few years I have seen the work done by New Jersey angler Chuck "Tyman" Manny. I don't know Chuck but he is probably one of the best big striped bass fisherman out there. He fishes, well it looks just about everywhere for just about everything, but his behemouth catches of striped 

bass are impressive. He consistently catches bass upwards of 60 pounds each year, with 40's and 50's at times seeming to be his average catch. When not in New Jersey he is down in the waters off Virginia and Maryland. While this is a fly fishing blog Chuck's catches are primarily made on live bait including eels and bunker along with trolling various trolling things. 

     Chuck works in conjunction with Grays Fishtag Research and The Fisherman Magazine on the Northeast Striped Bass Study. It is a tagging and tracking program that inserts a few different types of tracking devices to acquire data regarding striped bass and their travels throughout the year. Over the years I have caught and "called in" tag information in striped bass I have caught. One of the first 

was back in 2012 when I had my buddy Al out on my boat. We cut the tag and retruned it to the Littoral Society. I went ahead and joined up with them and tagged a couple of bass but that didn't last long. I didn't like "sticking" the fish nor keeping it out of the water for too long. 

     The last tagged fish I caught and followed through with was a schoolie bass caught on June 2, 2020. It was a USF&WS tagged fish. Since 1985 the USF&WS has tagged over 600,000 striped bass. The PA F&BC has tagged 5,938 striped bass in the Delaware Bay and River. Additional tagging programs inlude the Berkley Striper Club who has been tagging since 1986. 

     Most programs want you to cut and send in the tag, which I have done and recieved a certifcate along with some type of reward, like a hat or a patch. I don't understand why they don't just want you to record the information and let the fish go on it's way, so it can be tracked further, but I will learn more about that as I get into it. 

     I contacted Gray's Fishtag Research and heard back from Roxanne Wilmer one of the coordinators of the program. I am going to sign up and become a tagging partner. My interest is striped bass in the Delaware River. While tagging bass "out front" is benefical, I think targeting bass in their natal rivers would really be benefical as we would then know what strain the bass are and where they travel. 

     Manny, Gray's and The Fisherman have "installed?" the MiniPSAT tracker made by Wildlife Computers. That technology tracks the fishes travels and patterns. One is seen above and below is the recording made by a bass when it was caught in the New York Bight and and then again off

of Masachusetts in the same year. It is intersting to see where this one traveled from early June to mid-July in 2020. They also use a technolgy called mr-Pat which gives a start and stop data collection system, without the travels in-between, I think, similar to a dorsal tagged fish. Below is a video explaining the tagging program as seen on The Fisherman Magazine's You Tube Channel. 

      Most tagging programs require the partner to purchase the tags to beome involved in the program. Gray's asks for a donation of $129 for 25 tags. For me, I'm am not looking to tag every bass I catch, but the larger females who come up the Delaware to spawn. Do our Delaware fish

make their way up north past say Montauk after May and June? Or do they only go as far as the New York Bight? When I was talking about striped bass to Ben Whalley at the show the other day we were back and forth about where our, his and mine, striped bass come from and where they return to. He is in Maine, which puts him south of the Canadian fish and north of the Hudson, and maybe Delaware and Chesepeake fish. He stated the Kennebec River is a natal river for New England's striped bass. I found this interesting read regarding Maine's striped bass, HERE

      While tagging and catching and recording the striped bass data seems cool, there is a real science to it. Above is a graph taken from a 2007 paper in the Northern American Journal of Fisheries Management. Somehow that table above has to do with strip[ed bass tag return data. That, of course, is way above my intellect. 

     So if you have a favorite fishery and would like to contribute to the data pool look up one of the tagging programs out there. Make sure they're part of the Northeast Striped Bass Study. Catch and tag them up. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

01.30.23 "Yellow is such a Jersey color"......

     So above is what you can expect when tie long brushes in. I have always been nervous with tying with brushes but after a tutorial from David Nelson and Uptown Dave at the Squimpish booth I gained a little more confidence. My first brush fly was larger as I cut off a 3-1/2 section and tied it in. On this fly I only used about 1-1/2 inches. 

     When I was leaving the show on Friday Andrew and I were picking through Brad Buzzi's bucktails. If you missed the show and need tails Brad is your guy. You can see his site HERE. I also have to mention Joe Calcevecchia, at Saltwater Custom Flies, who processes his own tails and offers them only in white, HERE. I already had what I needed but he was looking for yellow. I had a yellow tail at home so I went looking through the bins for him. He mentioned how yellow is a "Jersey Color" and I couldn't help but think of

my Asbury Park Fishing Club buds and their "Chicken Scratch" plugs. So, he had me convinced. What that meant was a quick run to the Squimpish booth to see if Stephanie had a yellow brush and some yellow Boutique Blends. So this fly comes in at 8 inches, on a 6/0 Mustad 34007, not trimmed

and pretty much out of the vice. I am so tempted to "Chicken Scratch" the sides with a black marker but I always mess flies up trying to draw on them. It's yellow saddles (too short) and two Hollow ties of yellow bucktail, (which are flared out a bit and give the mid section a little "poof"), the short section of yellow brush (I didn't know they were spun on wire), then on the head some Boutique Blend in yellow and white, along with some Devlin Blend "Bunker Back" along the top. Now know I am no tyer like the consistently good ones and not in the same hemisphere as the top guns. 

Tying at The International Fly Tying Symposium, 2014

Every now and again I get lucky and something looks fishy and fishable. Now I may be on a little tear now, but it's all about consistentcy, which I am working on. Again, I am amazed how guys tie a bunch of flies that look exactly alike. Check out the below school of flies tieed up by Paul Monaghan

who hails from across the pond. As with everything else in fly fishing it is a process and a journey, and for me fly tying is no different. So I post this fly tying stuff to share my journey, not to advise or instruct, as I am not close to being there. 

     The good thing is you only have about a another solid month when things go from fly tying and getting ready to getting out there and getting busy with fishing. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

01.28.23 Squimpish Brush 10" bunker....

     So after I unloaded all of my loot from last night in the tying room I decided to give a Squimpish brush fly a shot. I should have taken images as I tied it, because it was scary looking, but in the end it came out nice. 6/0 hook, 10 inches long, but the diameter is what's sweet. I tied in a tail of regular Squimpish hair and then put some bucktail tied straight over it off the back. Then I cut 3-1/2 inches 

of the brush, tied it in, and finished the head with some Squimpish boutique blends and a little 'Bunker Back" Devlin Blends along the top. Now they say don't judge a fly by how it looks in the vice or after you finished it up, for both good or bad. So, without putting anything on (like UV, Crazy Glue, Softex or Plasti-Dip) I wanted to cast and swim it. Below is a pic of the fly, in the wind, before it hit the Delaware River. Now, this, to me, is 

a large fly. I have to remember Steve Farrar, again, "Half as much". I threw this fly on my Orvis Recon 9ft 10wt, which I find to be a slow rod. It would have been better on a fast 10wt or my H2 11wt. If I'm throwing my 12wt with 450 gr. line this fly will fly. It sheds water, but it has some weight to it when wet. Double hauling will take a bit of a pause so the rod can load. On the Recon is was wide loops. And then in the water, just sickness. This rivals, or beats, any other fly that I have tied and used in the 10+ inch range. This is a sick boat fly when the bass are on bunker. 

      The fly kept its shape after being wet. Again, I didn't put anything on it after I tied the head off. I wanted to see if it would just flop and foul, but it didn't. Below it looks like a wet cat, but just drop it in the water and it opens up and does it's thing. One thing, I think a Beast Fleye and bucktail shed

water better, don't need anything to prevent fouling if spaced right, and need less "maintenance" after landing a fish. I'm not trying to act like I know what I'm talking about, just sharing my observations and experiences while I am so enjoying fly tying, finally, after all these years. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

01.27.23 The Fly Fishing Show hits Edison...

     Well, I don't know how you judge how a show is. Maybe they do it by the numbers at the gate and the ticket sales to get into the show and for The Fly Fishing Film Tour (which was held at the Sheraton up the street?). Or maybe its by the feedback and revenue generated by sales made by the vendors and fly tyers and possibly trips booked by the lodges and outfitters. For me, it was an excellent show, and I tell you why. It hadn't been in recent years so it was a litle refreshing. 

     Now, it was no Somerset. Oh, Somerset. How good were those days. Tight aisles, carpet! on the floor, tons of everything, a hotel with a restaurant and bar that adjoined, and attended by ALL of the who's who in the industry. No, those days are over. There will be no storms or Covid to blame on this show this year. Let me preface, I don't like the Edison venue, and it has nothing to do that I worked there when it was a Covid hospital in 2019, it's just isn't the right venue for this show. 

     Here's my first bitch. Yesterday I went online to get a pre-ticket for the show. Now since you're making the show's job easier maybe it would at least be the same price or a buck or two cheaper? Nope. If you get your ticket online it's $22.27, nearly 25% higher. No thanks, here's my cash. 

     I was at the gate at 830 with a 9 o'clock start. I was the first one to the Keogh booth and the first one with their hands in the bins. I needed saddles, different colors than I have, so it came down to 3/$80 or 5/$125, I went cheap and picked and picked for three, I think I picked some winners. 

     And then it was off to see Brad and get an early shot at his tails, which are known nationally and internationally, just listen to some of the best tyers who use bucktail, they all pimp him up. The problem is, and I am talking the entire show, including Joe Calaccvechia, no one is dying black bucktails. If you order it online you get 2-3" bucktail, not much you can do with that. And, not like I had anything good, but my dogs taste for black bucktail has recently set me back. 

     There were vices everywhere. Renzetti and Nor-Vise had nice booths. Dealers had Peak, Dyna King, and others for sale just about everywhere you turned. I checked out Regal's Revolution, and I must say that is a nice vice. I currently tie on a Regal, and have for years, but that may change soon. Regal usually has booth at this show, with Steve Silverio tying, somethings up with that?

     Bitch number two. Put down the dam carpets. There was something about the carpets that was just warm and fuzzy. In Edison you feel like you're in someone's garage. I know that comes down to the bottom line. When I had a booth there it was extra $ for a carpet in your booth, their tables, their chairs, their electric, all handled by union workers, which Theresa's son is a member of and set this show up. I wish something could be done about the venue. I have been to Greenburg's Train Show there and it has a much better vibe, I'm not sure why, maybe the size of it?  I just miss Somerset.

          The vendors there have great stuff. Joe Cordiero of Flatwing fame had premium saddles (above) for the taking. I'm not there just yet, but they are gorgeous and if you tie true flatwing stytle they won't disappoint and will catch fish. That style is surely a less is more approach when tying. Across from him was Joe Calcevechia from Saltwater Custom Flies, another solid source for bucktails, just no black ones, and flies, which are guide proven here in New Jersey. That guy always has a smile on his face and is such a nice guy and gentleman. Sorry, no pic this year Joe.

    And you know where I spent a lot of my day, yep, the Squimpish booth. Shout out to Stephanie, the other Neslon half, who runs that business from start to finish. Davids just a guy who works there. I saw a lot, I learned a lot, and bought a lot. My first stop through was watching David Nelson blending brushes. I'm not a brush guy, until today. It wasn't until he explained it to me and tied up a fly that I saw the additional reason why I love and you should, if you choose, to tie with Squimpish, in whole or in part. More later. 


     I then had my first pass complete. I had Keogh, Buzzi and Squimpish picked through and got what I wanted. I saw the Simms booth and their three pairs of waders. I had to explain about my G3's and sending them back and....the kid was real nice but he didn't care, and he shouldn't have. There were a ton of Simms waders for sale at the show, at least 10,000 pairs between TCO, Precision, and Tightlines. Kinda made me scratch my head, and all were 25-30% off. Mmmm.

     And speaking of TCO, and other vendors, I have never seen so many jackets for sale? Is it blow- out of last years models for new inventory? Once you got through the clothing they didn't have much else for sale, oh yeah, waders, and vices, and some rods and reels. For the tyers, you really didn't 

have many choices to got to. Precision, not sure where they are from, had a decent pick of materials and hooks and the like, along with waders, more waders, and jackets, and some rods and reels. 

     I remember working the show with The Fly Hatch. The amount of work of basically moving a store from Red Bank to Somerset was overwhelming. After Choinard moved to Florida, Tightlines used to pick up that slack. They had tons of space and stuff with lookouts and registers, it was busy, but it was a go-to place. I am not picking on the Moy's in any way. I am sure it's a business decision, but it was markedly absent. I went there looking for the faux jungle cock eyes I got there last year. 

     The show had a lot, a lot, of artisans who brought out cool stuff in every medium. I ran into Mike from Skelfish Metals who had Scott Stryker at his booth (doing what I don't know). But this guys stuff is sweet. I stood there for a while talking with Scott when something caught my eye. It was hanging in the back underneath a shelf. I fell in love with it. What would Theresa say? Especially since I went hard at the three booths I hit before I saw Skel. It's metal, duh, but it hangs on a sheet 

of black metal magnetically. Oh, what would Theresa say? "Mike, I'll be back". I continued my way along the wall, chewed down a nasty $8 burger, remembering when you could take a break and walk through the walkway to the adjoining hotel and have a real bite and a beer? Bitch #3. While I chewed and nearly gagged I stood and watched the water flow down the Gutter Guard guy's booth.

     But then I saw my man, one of my main men. Rich Murphy. Author of my favorite striped bass book, Fly Fishing for Striped Bass. If you don't have this you're an idiot as I have told you how good this book is. It's a great book about striped bass, with some fly fishing and tying mixed in. I love talking to him, although it's getting harder to hear and understand him, wait, it always was. He told me he does these shows to sell books. The show should make him a Featured Author and stick him in that booth. Every times I passed today it was empty. I bet the Furminsky's get a cut if you sit in that seat. But I talked to him and told him much I have learned from him, I think he blushed as he gave that half a smirk smile I have known from him. One of my fondest memories of Rich was 

sitting at the bar, you know, in the restaurant, past the walkway, when the show was in Somerset, and getting totally fucked up. I sat with him for two hours, and I still no know what he said the entire time. So today when he talked he eluded that this may his last show here. That made me sad. He would join a long list of A-listers who used to come for the whole weekend. Popovic's and Dennis, Farrar, Kreh, Clouser, Taylor and others. They were such a draw and always put on a great show. As I spoke with him I relized this would be my last time seeing him. I asked him to pick a fly, of course sell it to me, and sign a card that I could diplay with it. He chose a "Pamet Special", one from his book. It was the best $12 I spent all day. Theresa wouldn't have a problem with that. 

    And in the "Okay?" department was this lad from Dubarry's from Ireland wearing a fancy pair of boots stranding in a tub of water. Okay. Nice stuff. Someone get that guy a drink. And in the 

"haven't seen that" department was the Miss Mayfly booth. A company making waders for women with all the curves and bends that ladies have going on. Cool to see. Cool color too. I saw a bunch Jersey guys that I have come to know through the blog, or guiding, or on the beach. One of them

was Andrew Hamilton of Orvis fame. He's been with Orvis since I have known him, currently the store manager in Philadelphia, or just outisde. It was nice running into all of them. And as I continued I saw Jonny King, another class act and ridiculous tyer. He's one of those overachievers, everything he puts his head to he crushes, his work in law, his jazz piano playing and fly tying. He was at the Bears Den booth talking with David Blinken, whom I've never met, who is a guide on Long Island and abroad. So as we were talking here comes a guy I know, and who knows me. I've 

met and talked with him, so times at length, at the Orvis Guide Rendevous, at the Mother Ship in Manchester, back and forth in emails as I contributed to one of his books, and somewhere else Orvisy where I invited him to join me in my driftboat on the Upper Delaware when I was guiding up there. Jonny says, "Tom, you know Colin Archer", answer, "No I don't, nice to meet you". Have you ever felt like that child that's standing there when the adults are talking....that's how I felt. Oh well, get over it. So Tom has been involved in making chocolates and that came up. He reached into his duffle bag and pulled out a sample for Jonny, then David, and then, folded down his chocolate carrier. Maybe he's knows I might be a pre-diabetic? Knows my A1c. Either way, I exited stage left, and got a Reece's from the stand where I got that nasty burger. Now to note, and in my defense, Tom knows and meets 100,000 people a year. But, c'mon man, I like chocolate. All good in the hood. 

     In my fifth hour, I know, ..... loser. I popped in to Jim Freda's presentation about New Jersey striped bass and fishing the fall blitzes. He started out some questions and answers. First one up, "How do you bleed striped bass?", followed by "How are the bass stocks doing?". He always does a great job when writing and speaking. I have never fished with him but would do a tuna on the fly trip with him or Geno one day. I still had purpose walking around, although you know when you get

that look from people, because there wasn't that many people walking around, from behind the tables saying to themselves, 'That guy again, what a loser". But I circled back to Mike's booth. That bass. Mmmmm. What would Theresa say? I answered for her, "Mike, wrap it up". If want to see some of his work or place an order you can see his website HERE. Stop by his booth if you go. 

     Then it was back to the Squimpish booth for the 15th time. This time I watched David, actually the two Daves, Nelson and "Uptown Dave" tying up some flies using the Squimpish brushes. "Oh my", as George Takei would say. I learned so much in that hour I can't even tell you. Those boys are great tyers. Again, try this stuff out, and add brushes to your blends and hair order.

And then as it was getting time to go Andrew said to me, "You know Ben Whalley is here right?"

 As soon as he said that my mind went to the movie Braveheart, and Mel Gibson riding on that horse in front of his troops. It goes like this,

William Wallace: Sons of Scotland! I am William Wallace.

Young soldier: William Wallace is seven feet tall!

William Wallace: Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if he were here he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse. 

    Well, I met Ben Whalley. Super nice guy. Regular guy. Not seven feet tall. But is a sick and talented tyer. He made his way down from Maine for the show and was set up in the Costa booth along with 

some of his sick flies. I've seen him online and watched his presentations and he's just that good. Beast Fleyes are his jam, but his mackeral and herring flies are fantastic. We talked a little striped bass and striped bass fishing. There was no mention of defeating the English army. My last stop was to square up with Brad, thank God he takes debit cards. I did a little thing in my head like, "Did I cover everything?. "Cover?, you walked the place 30 times". So I was done. As I walked out I 

walked past Rich. It was almost quitting time but there he was still at it. I just love that guy. I wished I could have fished with him sometime. If you're at the bar with him this weekend please buy him a drink from me and I'll owe you one. Below is my take away from the show, should keep me busy!