Sunday, February 24, 2008


After last years spectacular showing, the Alaska Trout Unlimited Team went deep into the Rainforest Classic Tournament without a win. We pulled it out in the last game, saving ourselves from humiliation by defeating a team that, for its entire tournament existence, has never won a game and has only scored a total of 4 goals in the last 2 years.

Oh well. Sometimes there is no room for mercy. We did what we had to do, and got one in the W column.

As usual, we stayed out way too late and had way too much to drink, but it wouldn't really feel like a tournament if we got more than 3 hours of inebriated sleep between games.

Having fulfilled our duty by getting 2 goals in the 3-1 win, we're outta here. 21°52'43"N, 159°28'08"W is calling, and we got a date with a Bloody Mary on the 7am flight.

No TV, No Phone, No Wi-Fi...No Problem. See you folks after the 11th of March.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Rodeo, Wyoming Fish & Game Style

..."Hey Bob, the electric cage-door opener done broke."

"Well you just gonna hafta open it by yourself, Larry."

"How the hell am I s'posed to do that?"

"Oh, I dunno...maybe stand on it. Try not to tip it over, OK?"

"Alright...hey Bob?"

"What, Larry?"

"If somethin' weird happens, you gonna help me, right?"

"Sure thing, pardner..."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bitchin' Idea #2942

Sunscreen and Shades?

Mask and Snorkel?
You betcha.

Flip Flops?

4 Island Hopper shirts and 2 pairs of cargo shorts?
Hell yeah.

Echo Trip Kit?
You know it, brotha.

From the man behind the insanely addictive Micro-practice-rod-thingy comes the Trip, a new 8-piece, 9-foot flyrod in a snazzy as hell cordura travel case. At 17"x6.5"x3", this thing fits in most backpacks that don't have almond-eyed Japanimation animals on them...and probably some that do. With room for a reel, a flybox, some tippet wheels, and other miscellaneous crap that we flyfishers seem to glom onto, it's the full deal in a tiny package.

At any rate, we are now mostly ready for the all-out frontal assault on rest and relaxation, thanks to Señor Rajeff. Lookin' forward to "warm sandy beaches and cocktails with little straw hats", as Uncle Avi once said.

21°52'43"N, 159°28'08"W.

57 hours and counting.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gearin' Up Yet Again

Spent a little personal time behind the vise today whackin' out some offerings for the aquarium fishies...

We have absolutely no experience in the Tropics, but somethin' tells us that small, sparse, and moderately flashy is the Lingua Franca of fish worldwide.

Some ammo for our sojourn to 21°52'43"N, 159°28'08"W. As always, we'll let the fish decide if we are on the right track.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Stuff We Like, One

During the long Alaska winter, We spend a lot of time in the Tying Wing of the Neil Creek Mansion and National Monument. Years of winding thread and being covered in bunny fuzz have led us to some fairly strong opinions on what sucks and what doesn't, so we would like to take this opportunity to share some of this with y'all.

As far as bobbins go, good ones get the job done, great ones are few and far between, and bad ones can make the whole fly-tying experience suck out loud. When we first started tying, we used a crappy metal-tubed, wire-legged bobbin that had the nasty habit of cutting thread at inappropriate moments. You know the type...light, cheap, big plastic knobs that let the spool slip out every now and a word, Lacking. With the awakening of the Inner Geek, we went in search of a better bobbin.

After many years of sifting through the chaff, we came upon the C&F Designs bobbin, and the search was over. Ergonomically correct yet not asymmetrical, heavy enough to keep tension yet not clunky, and a ceramic tube to boot. This bobbin is the cat's ass of tying tools.

Scissors are another make-or-break piece of equipment in the tier's arsenal. Tying scissors are about the most abused tool on the bench, cutting bead-chain, copper wire, and the like. Cheap scissors get the job done for about 4 minutes before they are too dull to trim fine hair or thread without leaving a spray of ends all over the place, and even some good scissors fail the 100lb. spectra test right out of the box. Others seem to hold up for awhile, only to bend or loosen after prolonged use.

Rubis of Switzerland makes cosmetic and surgical equipment, and their scissors are the Tool that Rule. Sharp as hell, strong as all get-out, these scissors can go from cutting 50lb. firewire right to trimming even the most gossamer CDC plume.

For years, we used Fly Dope for head-dressing as well as fixatives in the tying process. After having several flies explode after a few fish, we went in search of a better glue. We tried Flexament. We tried Gudebrod cement. We tried Loon, Umpqua, Cabela's...they all sucked. Some would cloud up after a few casts, some would peel, and some would slough off in salt water.

A buddy turned us on to Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails a few years ago, and we haven't looked back. One coat and you are good to go. We have had flies come back from client days with chips out of the eyes, broken hooks, and shredded fish hair...but the head is always intact. This stuff is great.

For an all purpose fixative, it is pretty hard to beat zap-a-gap. Everything from marabou to bunny strips sticks like crazy with this stuff, and it is a great way to beef up stinger rigs as well. We once had a noted commercial tyer tell us that zap-a-gap was far too time consuming to use for stinger rigs, but with all due respect, we think that knotting your trailers 8 or 10 times is way more time-consuming than just hittin' the hook with a few drops and overwrapping. Just sayin'.

At any rate, that's what we dig.

What's your story?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fish, Not Bling

As Reported in the Anchorage Daily News...

Jewelers say they won't buy Pebble prospect's 'Dirty Gold'

Companies call for protection of river drainages

"Some businesses refuse to sell salmon from fish farms or "conflict diamonds" from war-torn countries.

Now, gold from Alaska's massive Pebble mineral deposit is apparently off the menu for some jewelers.

On Tuesday, two days before Valentine's Day, five major jewelers, including Tiffany & Co., announced they are against using "dirty gold" from Pebble, a large and controversial copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska, because of possible risks to the region's salmon fisheries."

Things like this give us hope...the whole story can be found Here.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Just in case you have been living under a rock for the last several months, We'll shout it out again...

This Is Fly is a great read.

Online publications, at least in our minds, have always struggled with the "page thingy", the fact that instead of having all the info right there in front of you like an analog mag, a fella had to scroll down the page to read an article. Not no mo'.

Now in it's 6th issue, This is Fly has the feel of a glossy without all the hassle of trying to find a copy in a small, one-flyshop, it has great writing. Check out the Pebble Mine coverage in the latest issue, along with "Coney Island Zombies"...any flyfishing story that has the line "I know is [sic] big fish, but this is not worth getting robbed" is worth a read in our book.

While you are there, check out The Daily. As the blog of This is Fly, it serves a "Letters to the Editor" and "All the News that's Fit to Print" sorta function, and is a great read in its own right.

Keep up the good work, Tim.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Inaugural Semi-Annual Piscine Biathlon.

4 am is early.

Sometimes, We really question our sanity. When the alarm rings at some ungodly hour and you wake up in a barely remembered room, in a house vaguely reminiscent of your childhood after spending a mere 3 hours in a state only casually associated with sleep, a fella is prone to such thoughts.

Then, as the previous night's beer cloud lifts, We remember...

We're going fishing.

Ratbone and his fine chariot arrived at the appointed hour, eager to get the city behind us. Old stomping grounds, new friends...a potent combination.

The drive to the river was like an exercise in premeditated Déjà vu. All of the old flows looked vaguely familiar, but with so many years, so many other waters mixed in to the memories, these flows appeared in fuzzy focus, a mix of reality and memory.

Ratbone had a grand plan, an agenda, if you will. A creek that had haunted his childhood was beckoning, and we merely needed to complete the stalk to close in on our quarry. Armed with a Gazetteer, We made our way off the beaten path and onto the final approach, only to be thwarted by fallen trees across the roadway of destiny.

After a quick conference, we decided that some fishing in a lesser stream was better than no fishing at all, and we fell out for greener pastures.

On the way to the next quarry, we realized that there might be yet another path to off we went, up and down snow-covered logging roads, seeking out our quarry with a barely functional map and a digital compass on the overhead console...

...and after 3 hours, we were thwarted again. No magic road, no clear path, no enchanted waters for us today. We settled for the lesser flow, in which we found one lonely, spooky fish. After repeated attempts with various offerings, it was clear that all Lonely Larry was going to do was give us the fin.

Just past the Tree of Inconvenience, on the Road of Despair.

We gave up and went to throw the big rods on the big water for awhile, but our hearts weren't in it. A few casts, some walking, a little mumbling...then back to the truck for beer and conveyance to Base Camp.

Interior View, after some hasty beer-can evacuation.

Fish:1, Us:0

Prior to the trip, we had made a tentative plan to meet up with esteemed guide and fish-seer Jim Kerr and do some casting with him on one of his rare unbooked days. After a quick call on a drizzly tuesday morning, we set out to meet him over breakfast and discuss a plan. During our discussion, all weatherly hell broke loose, and soon it was blowing 25 and raining cats and dogs. Jim suggested that we go take a look at a river before it came to take a look at us, so we were off and running.

When the parking lot looks like this, all signs point to suck.

When we got to the flow, it was in the process of rising and coloring - not exactly good conditions. Being the troopers that we are, fishing had to be done, even in the face of adversity. After about 10 minutes of pointless casting, Jim shouted over the wind that we had only one other option, and that window was closing fast. Without further ado, we scampered back to the truck, and after a hasty phone call had arranged a shuttle for a float on yet another river. When we got to the launch, the river was still fishable, but we all knew that it was on its way out soon. Soldiering into the fray, we pushed off with Ratbone on the bow, Us in the stern, and Jim on the sticks.

Coming around a sweeper about 10 minutes into the drift, all hell broke loose as Ratbone poked a big buck right next to the boat. Jim, ever the patient and gentlemanly guide, offered advice and wisdom in the ensuing moments..."Strip! Strip! STRIIIIIP! WHAT THE &%$@# ARE YOU DOING, MAN!" As we struggled to get the boat anchored and tossed Ratbone over the side to chase his fish, things went from manageable to uncontrollable. Curses we shouted, epithets hurled...and the fish swam into a rootwad. Even an heroic rescue attempt by Jim proved fruitless, and the fish was gone.

We shoved off and continued on our way, without speaking the jinxable thought of many more fish to come. As the day wore on, it became apparent that even the thought of more fish had broken some piscine taboo, some heretical act that made us unworthy. With the water rising and coloring and the wind starting anew, we resigned ourselves to a day of no fish to hand, content with the brief encounter but lusting for more.

Ratbone, attempting to awaken his inner Jedi and will his fish from the debris.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Presenting Jim Kerr. Give him a jingle at 360-301-4559, he'd love to talk fishing with you.

We did one pocket 3 times, then hit it from shore, it was so sexy. We were all amazed that there was nobody home. Us, in our bewilderment, clinging to hope.

Not your average channel.

This is an inside joke, but just so you don't feel left out...that's not beer.

Fish:2, Us:0

After a fitful sleep, filled with dreams of wild steelhead gleefully destroying our tackle, we set of for yet another day with Jim. The plan was to get to the put-in, anchor up the boat, and walk upstream to see about a few tasty holes above the ramp. An overnight freeze had rendered the river that opalescent green color unique to coastal rivers, the color that sets the mind on fire with possibilities of big February natives. Jim had armed himself with a two-hander for the jaunt, and We borrowed his spare, a Burkheimer 13'9" 8wt, and set off in tow, ready to unleash our meager skills.

As we have stated before, we ain't the smoothest of two-hand practitioners, and truth be told, this was only the 2nd time we had been toting a rod longer than 11' to anything but a practice session at the local boat ramp. We will be the first to point out that, while able to do justice to our switchrods on midsized flows, we don't know our ass from a hole in the ground with the big sticks. Unfettered by skill or knowledge, we happily stepped in below Jim and started flailing away.

We would really like to meet Kerry Burkheimer someday. His rods must cast an effortless mile is a good caster's hands because, despite our obvious lack of skill, we could still reach out with this thing.

About 10 minutes into the session, the unthinkable happened. We were just getting into a little zone of understanding when a fish rudely interrupted our swing. We have felt the tug, the pull of the swung fish before, but only with shorter rods, shorter casts, and smaller flows. We now understand. Doesn't mean we are going to renounce nymphing and become fanatics...but we now forgive those that are.

After a short battle, in which Ratbone's camera malfunctioned and we realized that we had left ours in the truck, we landed a chrome bright native hen of about 10 lbs. After a quick revival, she swam off to the sound of high fives and hoots.

We're not snagged up. Really.

Another hole, then it was time to float. The first few holes looked good, but nothing came out of them, save Ratbone's impressive display of angling skill in which he went 4 for 4 on whiteys at a great outside eddy. As we progressed downstream past bleeding claybanks and slides, the green color was slowly replaced by a brown cast, and with the start of a rainshower, soon to be followed by snow, our hopes faded to match. With the wind and snow falling in earnest, we made haste through the lower holes to the pull-out, with only chattering teeth and numb digits to show for the duration of the drift.

An hour-long, snowy drive later, we pulled into base camp to plot, scheme, and drink beer while we hatched a plan for an all-out morning assault on the last river on the agenda, one last chance at multiple fish immortality. But the snow did not let up, even at sea level. As the night progressed and the rain began in earnest, it became apparent that everything within 50 miles would be punched, flowing brown and bank-full. Sometimes, a fella just has to know when to quit...

Fish:2, Us:1

When we awoke, the truth was apparent: everything was blown. Hell, even the ocean had a muddy cast this morning.

We packed up and hit the road, content with cruising the backroads, looking at places that would have been great to fish if they weren't under 5 extra feet of brown water. At one such place, we managed to delude ourselves into thinking that there was fishable vis and not too much flow, but after about a half-hour of fruitless casting we came to the realization that it wasn't going to happen today.

A long ride home, filled with old stories, new plans, and the satisfaction that comes from a sucessful trip in the face of adversity. Next time, we're gonna have some good luck with the weather. Next time, we're gonna bring the other map. Next time, we're gonna hit that one first, then go pick up the spares. Next time, we're not gonna order that weird thing for breakfast.

Next time.

Friday, February 8, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Back on the job, but not all there yet.

After 8 days in WA, We returned to this...

400 PM AST FRI FEB 8 2008


Sweet, no?

At any rate, the Fly Fishing Show was a blast. We did our part to get the word out about the Pebble Mine, with a lot of help from Whitey and KC. A few of the folks that came by the Sportsman's Alliance booth were even Neil Creek readers - wow, all three of you in the same place - and it was good to meet you folks. Jab, if you still want the Echo, email me...

Thanks again to Timbo and Hed for letting me do the show, Señor Rajeff for the Fine Indian Cuisine, Jay J for the line advice, and the Yakima Fly guys for a humorous night. If We forgot to thank you, it means you need to do more next year...ok, just kidding.

Post-Bellevue, the Traveling Roadshow and Beer Fountain teamed up with the Chief Angler for the Inaugural Semi-Annual Piscine Biathlon, an event so controversial that we had to stage the first one in a rainforest far, far away.

We are not quite through editing the footage, but let's just say that fish were hooked, firsts were achieved, beer was consumed, rivers were caressed, deals were made, and formerly long-haired guides yelled epithets at such high volume that local folks will be flockin' to churches come Sunday. When we get everything sorted, we will post a travelogue, but for now, we think this image sums it up nicely.

Stay tuned.