Well, the crew made the 6 hour trek west again this year to chase what has become one of my favorite fish, the Northern Pike. This marks the second year we have done this trip and I am sure it won’t be the last. I mean, what is not to like about big, aggressive, toothy fish? I just love this type of fishing!
We left Delaware Friday afternoon, we fished Saturday and Sunday and we made the easy drive east on the PA turnpike home early Monday morning. We were all tired, worn out and sore, it was 100% worth it!
If you have never taken a Pike on the fly I would suggest you do it ASAP. This is a very visual fishery with big flies, big fish sometimes at very close quarters. The take is incredible, to the point it can actually frighten you when it happens. I just love every part of it.
We are typically fishing out of drift rafts and the Smith Fly boats are perfect for this type of fishery. The lack of proper boat ramps along the river makes having a portable, light weight boat a must. It would be very hard, almost impossible to fish a hard hull here. We like the Smith Fly rafts so much we brought a “great Big Shoals” 15 footer home with us! 9 weight rods are the norm with an intermediate shooting head line. We opted for a variety of Temple Fork Outfitters rods including the Mangrove, Axiom 2 and the new A2X rods all paired with BVK and BVK 3 reels. Lines were Rio’s Outbound Short intermediate heads with floating running lines.
If you have ever looked into the mouth of a big Northern you will see rows and rows of large, sharp teeth. Wire bite tippet is not a suggestion it is a must! Leaders were fairly simple, 30# mono, 20# mono and a section of 30 pound knotable wire. The entire leader system is less than 3 feet long.
The flies we used were pretty diverse. We threw Game Changers (several varieties) bulkhead hollow flies, double deceivers and Pat Cohen’s Man Bear Pig. On the ride home Ed said “that Man Bear Pig May be the perfect fly for this type of fishing”. One thing is for sure. What ever fly you use make sure it has a sturdy, sharp, heavy gage hook, these fish are no joke. And they will absolutely destroy a poorly tied fly with a cheap hook!
The fishing is pretty simple for these fish. Pound the banks as much as you can and strip, strip, pause. Josh, one of our guides said they get probably 80% of their pike eats on the pause. One thing I will say is you have get the fly in the kitchen, possibly on the dinner plate, and Pike live in some nasty places. You can’t be afraid to put your fly in harms way. Snags, both in and above the water are the norm, know that going in.
The first day we spent almost 10 hours in the boat. Pounding the banks and stripping the fly all the way back to the boat translated into a lot of casting...a lot. We were very thankful for the light swing weight of TFO’s Axiom rod series.
Throwing a 9 weight for 10 hours can be tough. The Axiom 9 weights could be cast all day with no issue.
Pike fishing is a numbers game, with a “moved” fish almost as exciting as a landed fish (almost) in 2 days of fishing two boats, each with 2 anglers moved close to 60 fish landing 17. Size ranged from a few hammer handles to a 36 inch tank. Not quite the fish of 10,000 casts like their bigger cousin the Musky, but not like shooting fish in barrel ether. Wile they are aggressive and once they commit they are all in, they certainly are not stupid. Good accurate casts and a varied, erratic retrieve were a must. I can’t tell you haw many times Josh would say “put some pauses in there” I am glad he did because when that fly stopped and kicked sideways…
Till next time,
Tight Lines – Tim
Every year during the change of the seasons several things happen. Snow melts, Daffodils bloom, trees leaf and the Dogwoods bloom. It seems the blooming of the Dogwoods symbolize many things in the outdoors. Any central Pennsylvania Trout worth his salt will tell you that is the time for the Grannom Caddis. Well, if you are from my area in Northern Delaware the Dogwood bloom means one thing…Shad!
Shad are a member of the Herring family and every year around the third week in April they descend on our tributaries in droves. Fresh from the ocean and looking to spawn they are strong, feisty and tailor made to be taken on the fly. The “run” can vary in length (time) and intensity. During strong runs several fish per hour is the norm and a triple digit count on a morning or evening outing is an attainable goal. Yes, it is fair to say I do love the Shad run.
Shad fishing is actually pretty simple, a five, six or seven, weight rod, a intermediate or type II sink tip line and a small selection of flies will cover it. We will cast across river, almost at a 90 deg angle, let the fly sink and they twitch it as the current swings the rig down river, below where we are standing. If you choose you can let the fly dangle downstream, if you can wait long enough a fish will come up and take it, I will usually pick it up and re-cast. Flies are fairly simple, anything bright and flashy will do, I do have several of my own designs specifically for Shad, honestly a chartreuse bigger or the venerable ole’ Mickey Finn would fill the bill just fine.
Note, to see me tie a few of these patterns visit our new YouTube page by clicking HERE feel free to click subscribe when you are there.
For this outing we were fishing some new TFO gear. I had my TFO A2X 9 foot 5 weight. I have been using this rod to throw streamers to Trout on some local rivers, this shad run was the specific reason I got this set up. I was throwing an intermediate shooting head with a short (1.5 foot) T8 sink tip. Tyler was fishing the Drift rod set up as a Micro Spey. Two handed casting with a 2, 3, or four weight Micro Spey set up is fantastic fun on the Shad river.
We were into fish form basically the first cast, I don’t know how many we landed, we estimated about 150 between the 2 of us. It was a fantastic day on the water.
The Shad run is something special that happens each year. Some better than others, some are epic. One thing is for sure, these fish are a ton of fun!
If you would like to learn more about this great fishery book my "Shad Fishing 101" presentation for your club or private group. It is full o tons of information to chase these strong, hard fighting fish. Till next time...
Tight Lines , Tim
For anyone that knows me they know I absolutely love the Trout Nymphing game. I love tying the flies, love watching the sighter in a tight line rig, love watching the indicator on a indy rig, I lust plain love nymphing! Over the years my Trout game has revolved around the nymph, it still does and that will probably never change. That being said, every once in a while I get a hankering to throw streamers for Trout. It is not that I am against it, I actually quite enjoy throwing streamers, I always seem to gravitate to the nymph when talking about Trout.
We had quite a bit of rain through the week and all of our rivers were running high. my good friend and Norvise ambassador Ed "One Boot" Hays sent me a text on Friday afternoon, you all know the text, the kind that two fishing buddies send to each other. Few words, but the message is loud and clear ""Killing it on the FF section" That was it, but that was enough, I knew exactly where he was and I knew I would be throwing streamers on Sunday morning.
The Axiom II X;
When I first cast the Axiom II X at the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine festival back in January Nick Conklin of TFO told me I was going to like it. He was right, When I first cast Tyler's A2X 8 weight in October I said "I see a LOT of iridescent blue in my future. When I saw that TFO was offering this rod in a 5 weight with a fighting butt I know this was going to be my first purchase. Originally, this was to be my new Hickory Shad set up. Paired with a BVK sealed drag reel and a Outbound Short F / I line this was going to be some bad mojo for Shad this spring. Well, COVID-19 took care of our Shad season and I was itching to get this set up out on the water. Sunday was my day.
I went to my tried and true streamer set up. as mentioned I already had a Outbound Short intermediate line on there, to that I looped to looped a 1.5' piece of T11, a 3' piece of 3X and my all time favorite streamer, Kelly Gallops Zoo Cougar.
When we first hit the water I was surprised at how easy the Axiom 2 X could handle the weight of the rig. Not that this was a ton of weight, it just didn't feel like I was throwing a sink tip at all, it barley feat like I was throwing an intermediate line. As mentioned Ed was with me, he too was throwing the A2X five weight.
Now, I would much prefer to fish over wild fish. Today scheduling and family commitments would prevent us from making the day trip to our favorite wild fish river, we would have to stay closer to home and beat up on some stockers. Now to be clear I said I would "prefer" to fish over wild fish, I have no problem catching stocked fish. "They have fins" as the boys down south always say, I agree, so we were on the water early Sunday morning rigged and ready to go.
It didn't take long, we had fished down about 100 yards of river and I saw Ed come tight to a fat Rainbow. The formula was simple, pound the cut banks from the far side, strip, strip, pause. Let the rig do its thing and settle the fly down in the slot. Strip, strip, pause, repeat. Take a few steps down, bomb the far cut bank, strip, strip, pause, repeat. Every once in a while, on the pause BANG! I love the violence of a streamer take.
We had been fishing for a while, not setting the world on fire, but catching a few fish. I was as interested in working the rod as well as catching fish. I was impressed with the accuracy I could obtain with the weighted head, I was really impressed with how well the rod could handle a inverted loop cast, a cast you must have in your bag of tricks if you are going to wade and streamer fish. I had a few of the Bugger type flies pictured above sent to me by mu buddy Tony Muncy of Muncy designs. These things looked cool and I wanted to see how they looked in the water. Three casts in I was hooked to a solid rainbow. Ed took this picture just as I netted the fish.
These leech type buggers worked very well, so much so that I contacted Tony today and placed an order for 3 dozen, Then I bought every color of dubbing he uses to make the body of these that the company makes. Yup, they looked that good!
All in all it was a great morning on the water, we got into some fish, I got to try out a new rig that I am VERY happy with (Ed loves his as well) and we had a good time. In the end, isn't that what it is all about?
Till next time.
Tyler and I had the pleasure of fishing with central Pennsylvania's premier Smallmouth guides, Brian Shumaker. Brian is the owner of Susquehanna River Guides and has spent the past 30 years floating the rivers in and around west central PA including the fabled Susquehanna and Juniata rivers. Brian has become a good friend over the years so we jumped at the chance to spend a day on the water with him.
We did the 2 hour ride from our place to the meeting spot in record time where we then followed Brian with his Hyde drift boat in tow to the um, well, we will say...boat ramp. We were on a smaller piece of water Brain can only float in his hard hull during the Spring. later in the year there is simply not enough water to get down this particular river. Getting the boat in the water was interesting, but we got it down the bank and we were soon on our way.
Smallmouth are my favorite fish, they are beautiful, hard fighting and are tailor made for fly fishing. We spent the day pounding the banks and back eddies with streamers and slowly stripping them back. "Stripping them back" is really a bit of a misnomer, really we were just letting the flies hang and swing a bit and just keeping the line tight as the boat drifted down river. This is a cool technique as once you "get" it you can literally hold the fly in one spot for an extended amount of time to entice a big ole' bronze back to come up from the deeper water and smash it.
We started off a little slow, typical with spring time smallmouth fishing as the water was still a bit on the cool side at 52 degrees. When the sun got up and the water warmed so did the fishing. As soon as he stepped up on to the front casting position Brian was tight to a solid smallmouth. Literally it was on his first or 2nd cast!
nThis was not a guided trip, it was what we call a "row and go" meaning three guys are in the boat, 2 guys fishing and 1 rowing the boat. We would switch positions so every got to fish and every one would row. If rowing a drift boat is not something you do every day you will soon appreciate the skill of an accomplished oarsman. It is not as easy as a good rower makes it look...just ask Tyler. I really think you should spend some time on the oars if you can, it will give you a better appreciation of how everyone needs to work together for the boat to be successful. Tyler was picking it up toward the end, I am very excited for our Smith Fly raft to be completed so we can start floating some of our local (and not so local) rivers this summer.
On his second stint on the bow Tyler stuck a good fish followed by an even better smallie.
Tyler and I were fishing some of TFO's new gear, mainly the Axiom 2 X rods and the new BVK sealed drag reels. As mentioned smallmouth are my favorite fish to fish for, coincidentally we spend a lot of time chasing them each year. For years my go to set up has always been a 7 weight. We throw some pretty big flies when chasing smallies; Game changers, O'Neill's Controlled Chaos, O'Neill's Hovercraft, weighted crayfish patterns and the like. For me a 6 weight just doesn't have the muscle needed to punch these bigger, wind resistant flies through the air. It is not uncommon for us to be on the water all day and honestly an 8 weight was just too heavy to cast for 10 hours straight, that is why I prefer a 7 weight. Until now.
During one of my turns in the back of the boat I looked down in the rod holder and low and behold there was Tyler's Brand new A2X 8 weight. Will, I am not one to let a new rod to go to waste so I figured I would break it in for him. As mentioned earlier I am a huge fan of a 7 weight. That being said, if you get a little more than I light breeze the shortcoming of the 7 weight quickly comes to light, especially if you are trying to punch 60' casts with big flies. This was the first time I really got to spend with the A2X 8 weight. The first thing you notice is the overall weight of the rod. If you didn't know any better you would swear it you were holding a 6 weight. Load it up to cast and it is quite apparent what you are holding. Paired with an aggressive, weight forward shooting head this stick is an absolute rocket. It is light in the hand, you can cast it all day and it has plenty of punch to drive a big, articulated fly through the air with ease. It is a bit early to say it is my new favorite, but it will be a staple in my quiver for sure.
Several hours later and sever rotations on the oars we were at the take out. We had had a fantastic day with several Smallmouth landed along with a bonus Walleye, my first ever.
If you are looking for a fantastic central Pennsylvania Smallmouth experience Give my buddy Brian a call or check out his Facebook HERE. You will be glad you did. Till next time...
Tight lines, Tim
As many of you know Norvise ambassador Braden Miller was recently featured in a 5 page article in "Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Journal. It was a fantastically written article authored by Len Waldron. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Braden he is one of the most respectful, well mannered 14 year old's you will ever meet. Mature beyond his years, yet humble at the same time, Braden is the real deal when it comes to the fly fishing industry. I remember vividly as we were setting the booth up for the Atlanta "Fly Fishing Show" and my phone sounded. I looked at the incoming E mail and it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at...Braden was on the cover! (cover photo by our friend John McMinn) What a great moment that was for Braden, his family and for Norvise. Braden, his parents Will and Casey, brothers Blake, Brantley and Bennett have become family to us and we could not be more proud of his accomplishments.
To check out more of his work or to purchase some flies click HERE to visit his web site Miller Time Flies. He is also a great follow on Facebook and Instagram
Pretty cool huh? Till next time...
Tight Lines... Tim
We recently had the honor of being written up in Fish Alaska Magazine. Norvise and Fish Alaska have a long relationship that goes way back. George, the editor and author of the article and Norm were friends. Maybe that is why the article has a personal feel to it. Thank you George for writing the article and than you Fish Alaska for being such a great partner.
A great little story by Norvise ambassador Kevin Griffin. Giving what is going in the world right now, I thought is was fitting to post this one today. (I have had this post for a little over a year) Thank you Kevin for sharing this with us. Quite fitting I think.
Some of my fondest memories as a kid were fishing trips I went on with my Papa. Those trips taught me about nature, the environment, and the love between a grandfather and son. Now, 40 years later, I get the pleasure of experiencing this with my son. The river has always been my sanctuary, my refuge, a place I go to in order to wash away the stress life puts on us. I didn't realize how true this was until recently finding out my wife of 11 years was cheating on me and going through a divorce. God is good though and found me a new home on the river because he knew how therapeutic it is to me. Simply sitting on the porch and listening to the rushing water seems to drown away all of life's troubles. I've been worried about my little boy and how he is adjusting to having two homes now and his parents apart. I had him this past weekend and was able to take him fishing in the river I live on and experience the sheer joy of him catching his first trout. The smile on his face says it all! Saturday we made a memory that will live on in him for a lifetime and the river allowed that to happen. Thank you God for all the blessings you have given us, for our precious children, and for the beautiful trout streams we are able to fish. Please help us be mindful and protect our streams so our children's children will be able to enjoy them as we do.
A great story with a strong message. Till next time,
By Norvise ambassador Brian Davenport
Congratulations on your new purchase. Hopefully you also bought a Norvise Automatic Bobbin as well. If you haven’t- you should go do that right now! The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. The only way to get the full potential of the Norvise system is to have both the Norvise and the Norvise Automatic Bobbin
There is a bit of a learning curve with the Norvise, but there are some things you can do to shorten the curve tremendously!
First things first, start by watching the video that came with your Norvise to see how the system works. If your brand new to fly tying this will be a great help and you will learn a lot. If you’re a seasoned tier, this will show you how to use the system, and how it differs from your prior setup.
(to see the video Brian is talking about click HERE)
After watching the video, I sat down behind my Norvise and got to work.
Now a Norvise Automatic Bobbin is a special tool that you will learn to love! In the video, Norm demonstrates how to wrap the thread around the leg of the bobbin, to provide adequate tension.
Here is a little trick to help with that. Once you have the thread through the tube on the bobbin, attach it to the thread post across from your vise. Do this by placing a few wraps of thread around the button. At this point, your bobbin will be hanging from the button on the thread post. Make sure the bobbin is oriented with the thread coming off the bobbin towards you. With your thumb, push the thread through the legs of the bobbin, and catch it with your finger on the back side. Bring it down, around the spool. Do this twice and then the tension is set. This helps so that you don’t accidentally pull the thread back out of the bobbin-- and once you’re done it is already secured to the post.
During the learning curve, this will be something you do quite a bit of! Part of the learning curve is to make sure when you cut your thread, to use your hand to put tension on the bobbin hub, so that it doesn’t zip the thread back through. It will happen-so just prepare for it! After a few times of having to rethread your bobbin, you’ll get the muscle memory down to do it and then you will do it without even thinking about it.
One of the things I missed when watching the video, is which way you spin the vise. It seems pretty straight forward, but I had a few issues with my flies until I watched the video a second time. If you watch carefully, Norm spins the vise towards him, rather than away from him. When I really thought about how I used my old vise and wrapped the thread on the hook, it makes sense. You need to turn the vice toward you so that it will wrap the thread away from you like on your old vise. Small detail, but easy to miss. And can make your first few interactions on your new vise frustrating if you don’t get it right.
Learn to tie a half hitch. The half hitch is your best friend when using the Norvise system. If you break your thread, it will save your fly from completely unraveling. It will also help when you use the vise for other techniques such as dubbing.
Also, when you go to move the bobbin off the thread post, be sure to keep enough tension on the thread, so that your material doesn’t unravel.
One final thing— materials go on the hook very easy with the Norvise—sometimes too easy! So it is very easy to crowd the hook eye. If you start your thread in the spot where you want your materials to end
Brian gives some sound advise in this article about the vise and the bobbin. Hopefully this will shorten the learning curve with your new Norvise. Till next time...
This is a very proud moment for us here at Norvise. We are honored that our new Magnum Brass Hubs have been chosen for an Editors Choice Award from Fish Alaska Magazine. Here is what they wrote;
Norvise Magnum Hubs are bigger, thus 40% heavier than standard hubs, and they spin a little longer and with more momentum than the standard hubs. Our tester has used these for the past several months and comments he doubts he will go back to the standard hubs. All three Norvise jaw configurations will fit in Magnum Hubs.
We are so humbled that one of our products have been chosen to receive this award. It is really cool for Norvise to have received this award. You have probably heard me say this before, machining is the best trade in the world! In what other career can you take an idea from your head, draw it on a computer, turn raw material into a finished product and then win an award for it. I am so proud to be able to do just that.
Thank you to Fish Alaska Magazine for choosing us for this award. It really means a lot to us!
Check out Dave's recap of his club's last monthly meeting.
High Country Fly Fishers, Utah’s chapter #599 of Trout Unlimited, has been serving Summit and Wasatch counties since 1989. Recently the club found itself looking for a new monthly meeting location. We were welcomed by the Deer Valley Lodge and manager Anthony Bartholomew.
Mickey Anderson owner of Fish Tech Outfitters and a local T.V. personality on KSLOutdoors would be our first presenter. Dave Allison past president, and Norvise ambassador, was asked to do the tying presentation. Dave demonstrated the Purple Chubby Chernobyl Ant and a Hippie Stomper on his Norvise Legacy. The meeting was well attended with 52 members. I would have to say, High Country Fly Fishers has found a new home.