Sunday, March 27, 2016

Swing The Fly Review

Swing The Fly Magazine
   The Voice of Spey

Though I do read stuff online, it’s not my favorite mode. I still prefer the tactile, portable book or magazine enjoyed from a favorite recliner, posted in the bathroom, or toted off to bed.

I hesitate to believe that free digital media is entirely to blame for the diminishing titles of print magazines. I suspect diminishing quality of the medium is more to blame. When a magazine devotes two-thirds of its thin volume to advertisements readers eventually tire of it & drop subscriptions. Yet I’m fairly certain there will always be a niche for quality magazines – The Drake, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, California Fly Fisher, & Gray’s Sporting Journal come to mind. And also a bright new one, Swing The Fly, which began as a free online journal & moved to print in winter, 2016.

Upon receiving my first issue of Swing The Fly, I was immediately impressed. Square-bound, not stapled, at a half inch thick, printed on excellent quality, heavy recycled paper, it more than met tactile requirements. (Makes a handsome coffee table book.) Inside I was welcomed, in photos & real ink, to an unabashed celebration of things that are authentic & rooted in the soul of our game – & with no trace of didactic expert-ness, onanism, or market-driven kitch. Advertisements are sparse & understated, not in your face.

Along with an old master, Trey Combs, Swing The Fly offers a strong line-up of fresh voices. I was particularly impressed with Mia Sheppard’s writing chops. Mia is an Oregon mother, fishing guide & writer whose succinct article, The Great Public Land Heist, sheds light on the dominionist movement chipping away at the idea of commonwealth in the form of accessible public lands. Sheppard compresses this fractal issue admirably, & has the sand to present it for what it really is, a social/ideological issue our times are compelling us to confront. There is an important message clearly evoked yet tactfully unspoken at the nexus of Mia Sheppard’s article, regarding what it actually means to be an American, as well as an angler, participating in the Public Trust. A heavy lift for an angling writer (speaking for myself), & a controversial subject for an angling magazine to present considering the current political/ideological lines being drawn.

Unique to any magazine I’ve read lately, or within memory, there is a decided rhythm & pace to the overall presentation of Swing The Fly that is almost organic, like the metered pace of casting a two-hander, swinging a fly down some lonesome run. It is immersive. I’m not sure if that is intentional or if it just seems to fall together that way, this magazine being the creative offspring of editors who are, foremost, hard-core anglers & guides. In either case, I'm fairly sure any who love two-handed rods & swinging timeless fly patterns for steelhead, salmon & trout, will find Swing The Fly an experience well worth the price of admission.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spike, On Fly Lines

G.E.M. Skues ~ wikicommons
     Those who peruse the right-hand column of this page may have noticed, filed under ‘Gatherings’, the fairly loaded title: Amber Liquid Anglers & Sportsmen. I know, funny title. Spike, the guy who writes it, is funny too. Spike is a writer & a wit. Wit is the best kind of funny because it is always alloyed with truth. If the current Republican primary doesn’t have you convinced, Spike provides further evidence to support my suspicion that we are, in fact, angling at the edge of The Apocalypse. Spike, on fly lines:

Monday, March 7, 2016

Wine Merchant

Wine Merchant ~ Steven Bird 
    Leisenring’s Black Gnat is a killing fly, long one of my favorites. Never being able to leave well-enough alone, I’m always tinkering with the sexy mingling of black & claret that, I think, makes the LBG so effective. This version sprouted some distance from the parent tree, took up trade & changed its name.

For fun.

Wine Merchant

Hook: #12 Mustad 94840

Thread: wine UNI 8/0

Hackle: natural black/bronze hen

Body: claret yarn, single strand, touched with black rabbit & twisted 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Walleye on the Fly

        Canadian & American surveys of the upper Columbia, above Lake Roosevelt, indicate that up to 70% of the native fish species spawned within the system are eaten by walleye before reaching maturity. Short of pulling down the dams & allowing the river to flush, there is no plan other than suppression for reducing their numbers. Biologists think if the 70% depredation rate can be decreased by about 7%, native trout may remain sustainable. Toward that goal, Washington & Oregon have suspended catch limits on walleye, as well as other introduced, non-native species – channel catfish, bass, & northern pike.   

Always has to be some dufus who wants those fish like he caught back home in Alabama or Wisconsin. Walleye were illegally bucketed into the upper Columbia in the 1950’s, & from there have fenestrated downstream to inhabit the entire river. Below Chief Joseph Dam, where there are still salmon, walleye munch salmon smolts.

It’s not a good situation.

Walleye are good, filleted & fried, but they are not good fighters. A big one is good for a short, bulldogging fight, but that’s it.

In fall, during the October caddis hatch, walleye move onto those areas which traditionally concentrate trout, to feed on the big fall caddis. For a few evenings in September walleye were thick on one of my favorite trouting locations, & quick to take the swung October caddis imitation – so I did what anybody would do.

Skillet biology.

Filleting those sacks of walleye was a task nearing commercial proportions, but was worth it. Invitations were sent out, beer was brought in. The friends from up & down the river had a great time at the fish fry.

(Some of us had too good a time.)

And in the end, everybody agreed that skillet biology was a pretty good way to counter the harmful affects of bucket biology.

We do our best.