MOTIVE rods feature a strong butt section with fighting butt and full-wells grip to provide the necessary strength to fight and control large game fish. Heavy saltwater lines slip easily through the oversized guides, and the aluminum reel seat and saltwater compatible components round out the features. Built on a bluefin blue blank, the rods have blue primary thread wraps with royal blue and black trim wraps and come in a blue steel colored, ballistic nylon rod tube with divided liner.
Updated in form and function, Sage’s new Ballistic Rod Tubes feature heavy duty ballistic nylon, lockable zippers, updated shoulder straps, reinforced end caps and divider pockets. Available in multiple sizes including single and multi-rod tubes, single rod/reel cases, spey rod/reel cases and double rod/reel cases, anglers have plenty of options for daily use or for extended travel. Ranging in price from $40 to $75, Ballistic Rod Tubes come in 17 size options and will be available in August.
Sage’s Traditional Rod Tubes offer anglers a classic, lightweight option for the most popular sizes of freshwater and saltwater rods. Available in the stealth color with a platinum colored Sage medallion, both 2 and 2.25-inch models accommodate a wide selection of fly rods. The freshwater Rod Tubes will retail for $65 and the saltwater for $70. Both will be available in August.
And then how about Nicco. He’s a guide’s guide if there ever was one. He’s one of the best, but one look at him and you have to scratch your head – his wading boots are falling apart, his waders are torn beyond repair, he says he just broke his landing net as well as his new Sage One. He was putting the rod into a rod rack in his truck when the tip got stuck, Ouch. His check engine light is on in his truck and his speedometer is broken. If you didn’t know him, you would have to wonder if this guy is so bad that no one tips him or is his gear in shambles because he works that hard. I know from experience that it’s the latter. Nicco will do anything to get his clients into a fish.
To be honest I have a number of worm patterns in my fly boxes including a selection of rubber band worms that I find are much more effective than the vernille worms. And we just returned from a month of hosting trips in New Zealand where the rubber band worm reigns but this is different, this river is unique and it has a long list of aficionados who play by the rules with 6x and tiny dries. That said, we tie on the worm, add a strike indictor, and off to the dark side we go.
An hour into it and we have lost two and landed four including a nice cart-wheeling 16 inch rainbow. I’m not feeling the slightest bit of guilt anymore. Action is action. Oh, I almost forgot – the 6x tippet has been replaced with Rio 4x and the fish don’t care. They seem eager to egg the worm regardless of tippet size. Nicco says it’s time to move to another pool, he thinks we’ve worn out our welcome here so we move on upstream.
The Rio Malleo flows through the Olsen family’s San Huberto estancia and has over 20 beats. There are few rivers that can offer the mixed bag of fishing opportunities of this queen of spring creeks. We are fishing beat number three on the upper end of the Olsen’s property and as we come around a bend we are treated to a full view of the Lanin Volcano with its majestic snowcapped peak. The view reminds me that the mountain alone is worth the trip. Nicco points to the head of a deep run and says that there is a really nice brown that hangs out there. We start at the bottom of the pool and patiently work our way up. A pint size rainbow who acts likes he’s bigger than he is takes the worm and jumps all over the pool. Oh great, just what we need to alert any good size fish that might live here.
The head of the pool is within reach now. My cast lands and I watch as the strike indicator comes swiftly back to me without pause. Another cast, and then two more, when Nicco says just one more. This time the indictor disappears as if it was never there and the eight foot nine little four weight Sage Circa is straining against something that spells size. A few minutes later the brown in the net is smaller than I would have guessed from the fight that has just ended. Nicco pulls out a faded measuring tape and says twenty inches on the mark. I ask to take a look and can barely see the faded twenty inch mark, but it’s there and this is a beautiful wild brown, and yes, in the corner of its mouth is Nicco’s red San Juan worm.
It’s almost dark as we arrive back at the lodge and most of our group is gathered on the porch hanging waders and gear and sharing thoughts on the day. I begin to think of a way to get around the worm thing when one of our guests, Steve Binnick, walks up to me and of all things asks, “Did you bring any San Juan worms”? I am saved.
Adios. From the banks of the Rio Malleo and the San Huberto lodge.
Going into this competition I imagined fishing in a T-shirt on the banks of the Big Thompson River under a clear blue Colorado sky. I knew that would not be the case when my flight from Seattle to Denver was delayed over 5 hours due to heavy amounts of spring time slop along the Front Range. Plans change and as a competitive fly fisherman you have to be prepared for any number of changing factors on the water. During competitions I have watched rivers double in size during a three hour session, lakes that change from glass to whitecaps, and in Colorado I watched our venue, Lake Estes freeze over in two days.
So we adapted. We changed the venues around in a last minute scramble. The competitors would be fishing a session on the Big Thompson and a session on Mother Lake at Sylvandale Guest Ranch and then the next day fish Lone Haggler reservoir, one bank venue and one boat venue. We would be fishing three lakes and a river over the course of two days to name a winner.
My draw put me staring into a cold, 34 cfs, snowy beat on unseasonably crisp morning on the Big Thompson. I knew that the only places that I was going to find active fish would be in the sunny spots or the deepest water. That was my game plan. I rigged up the 3100-4 ESN with 6x to my team of flies and got to work. I spent the next three hours fishing from my knees euro nymphing with a variety of small hand tied jigged Pheasant Tail variations, small midges, and a few BWO patterns that are top producers. For the first hour and a half I did not touch a fish. They just weren’t away in this stretch I was telling myself. Finally I parked on what was the deepest, darkest, slowest hole on my beat and dredged down deep. Second cast, whack! Brown trout on and in the net! This continued at a rate of about a fish every 5 minutes. I had found my fish and just needed to work them. Once the bite slowed I would mix it up, change flies, and give them something fresh. At the end of my three hours, I had enough fish scored to take a second place in my group.
Mother Lake is a spring fed, brood stocked, muddy bottom, private lake. I would be willing to bet that a trout under 18 inches simply does not exist in there. Managed as a trophy pond Mother was going to be a real hoot. I made my first few casts from the bank using my trusted RIO Midge Tip line fished in a very static presentation with three “buggy” flies. It was not more than two casts before my 7100-4 ONE rod doubled over and a beautiful 24” hen fell victim to a slim chironomid pattern. I thought the rest of the session would be easy. My 15 yard stretch of bank had good structure and I knew that I could find more fish. After 30 minutes of no success with the midge tip I switched it out for the new In-Touch type 3 and began pulling flies right above some weed beds about 8-12 feet down. The fish were so eager to take my offering that I had to deal with 4 clean break offs on 4x. Brutal! By the end of the session I only had 4 fish, but they totaled over 77 inches. A good friend of mine had four as well, but they were 2 centimeters longer. Another 2nd place.
Heading down to the Hag. Boat sessions fished Loch style are my personal favorite. Unlike a bank or river beat, you have freedom to make decisions on where to go on the lake. One can never complain about a bad stretch of water, only poor choices made during the three hours. My boat partner and I decided on the far SW corner of the lake while all of the other boats ran toward the dam. I figured it was either going to be feast or famine for us on this stocker lake. Well with a light chop and the wind at our backs we found a pod of stocker rainbows that provided consistent action. As they say, don’t leave fish to find fish. So we stayed. Fishing an In-Touch type 5 with a fast choppy retrieve and three of my favorite small streamer patterns tied off tags, we had a blast popping 8-10 inch fish one after another. As we motored back into the dock I had a few more fish that my boat partner, but we did not know if the far side of the lake was more productive than were we chose to stay. It turned out that or decision to fish the SW corner paid off as our boat took 1st and 2nd place.
Tired and sunburned I surveyed the bank of Lone Haggler for the final session of the tournament. I decided to stick to my 5100-4 ONE that I fished from the boat over my 7100-4 ONE. Although I would sacrifice distance from the bank I felt that a softer rod would improve my hook to land ratio. The lake decided to glass out as the start of the session and the midges came off when it did. I threw on my midge tip once again and began to pick off rising stockers with a small un-weighted streamer and a diawl bach. Having anglers to the left and right of you makes you anxious as they pluck fish off and you finish a retrieve without a bite. It was time to just fish and focus. I stuck to my game plan and managed 14 fish from the muddy banks of Lone Haggler. I edged out 2nd place by two fish. What fun! After putting down my rod we all shook hands and congratulated each other on fish caught and talked about the ones that got away as well.
Back at the lodge, to my surprise I found out that I was in contention for a medal. I was tied for second place overall and it was going to come down to who caught the most total centimeters of fish over the two days. Well, I fell short so to speak and had to settle for a Bronze medal! What an honor. Regardless who wins or loses at these events it’s about learning new techniques and the shared experience. It’s a great honor to get to fish with so many incredible anglers and learn from each other.
Until the next comp, it’s time to get back out and continue to fish!
Sage Ambassador, and frequent contributor to Fly Fishing in Salt Water Magazine, Joe Mahler gives some tips on how to increase your casting accuracy. For more great tips be sure to pick up the latest Fly Fishing in Salt Water Magazine or sign up for one of Joe’s casting lessons if you’re in the Fort Myers area.
“Now, drop it in there again, but this time a quarter-inch to the left.” I had just placed my fly in a doormat-sized opening in the mangroves at 75 feet, and that was as close to an “Atta-boy” as I was going to get from Captain Kevin Merritt. No fish struck on that particular cast, but a feisty 22” redfish nailed it on the next one. Those two casts were not luck (maybe a little), but rather the result of hours of focused practice on the grass.
Accuracy skills are probably the least-practiced, but most valuable of all casts. The most common request I get from students is “I want to work on my distance”. Ironically, the best way to increase distance is to start with accuracy. Here are a few tips.
Do a One-Eighty
The first important element in accuracy casting is the back cast. The most efficient and dead-on casts will feature a back cast that is 180 degrees from the target. Energy is stored in the line during the pick-up and back cast and is simply re-directed with the forward cast. Straight back, straight forward and there you have it. By the same token, the trajectory of the line should follow that 180 degree rule, with a shorter cast having a steeper downward angle than a long cast.
Take a stance
With all fly casting, there are a variety of styles that work. The one that works best for me is to square-off to the target. Point your eyes, shoulders, toes and even your belt buckle at the target. For the best results, I prefer a closed stance – placing my right foot slightly forward (the left foot for a left-handed caster). This helps to keep the rod tip traveling in a straight-line path. Try engaging the body by gently gliding back and forth, but not rocking. This will allow you to move the rod in a very straight path and decrease arm movement.
The eyes have it
Serious cyclists know that when you are in danger of crashing, you should not look where you are heading but rather where you want to go. The same holds true for fly casting. While there is some benefit in watching your back cast, especially in long-distance casting, I tell students to keep their eyes on the target. If you are sight fishing and you turn to watch your back cast, you will likely not be able to find your target when you turn your head back around. Even when blind casting, pick a flicker of light on the water, or a piece of floating grass and keep your eyes on it.
Keeping the rod hand in line with your line of sight will also add accuracy. If the rod tip is traveling far from the line of sight, a triangular problem involving the target, the eyes and the rod tip is created. When keeping the rod in line with the eyes, the only consideration is how far to cast. As the rod tip path is placed further out, you will still have to gauge distance, but now you must factor in an additional angle coming from the side (see illustration). One common mistake I see often, particularly when casting longer distances, is the caster tilting his head in the direction opposite the rod. This may give the caster a feeling of added power, but doing the opposite and tilting the head slightly inward will help keep the stroke in alignment and keep the rod closer to the line of sight.
While it is usually best to keep false casting to a minimum, hovering over a stationary target is the best way to hit it dead-on. Not a great idea on a clear water bonefish flat, but very beneficial in the shaded backcountry or when placing your fly under a dock. It is common to see a caster make a couple of beautiful false casts and on the final presentation, overshoot the target by as much as three or four feet by extending the arm too far forward. Make sure that the stop on the final stroke is precisely the same as on the previous ones. Remember also, to make the stops on the back cast “cookie-cutter” as the tendency is often to drop a little further back with each false cast.
A properly executed double-haul will add distance and control to accuracy casts. In Jon Cave’s book “Performance Fly Casting” he uses the term “In-line hauling” to describe how the haul should be executed by keeping the line hand in direct alignment with the rod hand, line, and rod. The haul itself should mirror the casting stroke in speed and length and, when done “in-line-style”, will aid in accurate casting by keeping both hands moving in line with the target.
In fly casting, great things happen on the grass. Practice is important and practicing the right way is even more-so. Always do your drills with an outstretched high-visibility cord, or better yet, a tape measure. Frisbees, soccer cones and tennis balls make great targets. There is an adage among flint-lock shooters “Aim small, miss small”, and casting to a target the size of a tea cup will definitely improve your average. Keep your practice sessions brief, and do them often. You may also want to mark your lines with a sharpie at significant distances. Always practice with a yarn fly of some sort. A five-inch length of brightly-colored surveyors twine doubled and nail-knotted works nicely, tied to the end of an eight-foot tapered leader.
Place targets at ten-foot intervals along the tape and place a few to the outsides. Pay particular attention that on the forward cast, the entire length of fly line and leader lands parallel to the tape. If the line lands in a serpentine formation, make a few casts and watch your hand throughout to be sure that that it is moving along the straightest path possible. When casting to the out-laying targets, take time to square-off in that direction.
As you practice, try to make your loops tighter and tighter. Strip off another ten feet and do it again. You will find that as your accuracy improves, added distance will naturally follow
We at Sage have always been strongly opposed to the proposed pebble mine in Bristol Bay and now the campaign to save one of our most important salmon fisheries has hit it’s most critical juncture yet.
Here’s where the situation stands:
After being asked to deny the Pebble Partnership a Clean Water Act 404 permit, by Federally recognized tribes, Commercial fishing interest, and the Bristol Bay sportfishing interest, the EPA undertook writing a the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. In May of 2012, EPA release the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. This Assessment was then peer reviewed by a select group of scientists. The EPA has taken the recommendations of these scientists and is now rewriting the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment for a 30 day public comment period.
In short, your comments will influence whether the mine happens or not.
Simply visit http://capwiz.com/savebristolbay/home/
Highlights from the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment
• 46% of the global abundance of wild sockeye (37.5 million fish annually) are found in Bristol Bay.
• Nushagak River Chinook salmon run can reach over 200,000 fish.
• 35 fish species (all 5 species of Pacific Salmon Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Grayling, Arctic Char, lake trout, and Northern pike), 190 bird species, 40 terrestrial species are potentially impacted.
• Direct loss of 55 to 85 miles of streams and 4 to 6.7 square miles of wetlands could result from Pebble.
• If all major claims were developed, a direct loss of 114 miles of stream and a 30 square miles of tailings storage facilities would result.
• Tailings spill would eliminate 28% of the Nushagak Chinook run.
• Populations of Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden could be lost for decades.