Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fiberglass Is Back - The Vision Cult Fiber

I was asked this recently while showing someone the Vision lineup. “Why fiberglass?”

There is more to it than marketing.It isn’t just a cool label to hang on something. The Cult Fiber was developed allow fly anglers to touch their roots once again. They are not “old school” though. Cult Fibers are light and responsive. They have deep, soft actions with a nice hidden reserve of power. Despite all of that, with all of the types of rods out there, and all of the technology, why fiberglass? The best way, was to fish one.

Two weeks back I got a Cult Fiber and test drove it before sending it out to a perspective shop. It was a 6’6″ 3/4 weight rod. I had a 4 weight GT reel and a 4 weight Attack fly line. The thing that stood out in particular, was the relaxed action. I took the setup to a small trout stream. Lots of Brook Trout from 10-12 inches. I caught 14 trout in an evenings work. It felt peaceful. The rod had a quiet, medium action with a nice throw of power on the 4 weight line. Light tackle all around made 10 inch trout feel like 15 inch trout. The rod handled them with care.

I fish a lot of rods in a season. All types of actions and sizes. Sometimes fast actions and long lines. On a Wednesday evening I fished a small fiberglass rod and a light line for small, beautiful Brook Trout full of fall colours. I will definitely being doing this often next season.

As for others, the Cult Fiber retails for $310 CAD. They will be available at new Vision Dealers coming this spring. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vision Comes To Canadian Fly Fishing

I am pleased to announce I have become the exclusive Canadian Distributor for Vision Fly Fishing through my company, Fish Brooks Tackle. Vision has been around for 15 years in Europe and have a full lineup of rods, reels, waders, clothing, accessories and fly lines. Vision are known worldwide for their fly lines, in particular the Spey Ace series of Spey lines. They are changing single handed lines as well with their Vibe series of lines. You can view the whole lineup at You can also follow and be part of the roll out of Team Vision, following the Canadian blog at and if you have facebook, follow us on our Facebook Page. Lastly, join us on Twitter to follow the latest developments.

We are looking for Pro Staff as well in all areas of Canada. You can contact me at for more information on how you can help us promote Vision in Canada and the opportunities available.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Caring For Your Fly Rod, Reel, And Line

So the first trip is fast approaching and so is the time for the yearly ritual of preparing my gear. Good fly fishing equipment is an investment and proper care is protecting that investment. Most of you who fish likely know a lot of this, but for those who don't, here is my routine.

Fly Line: Todays fly lines are very technologically advanced but still based on a PVC coating on a Dacron line. In the spring the line needs to be cleaned, stretched and dressed. During the season, several times, the cleaning and dressing should be done again. The performance of a line is based largely on it remaining supple and smooth. Grit can take the sheen off of it. Sunlight and drying out make it less supple. The line can be cleaned with soapy warm water (mild soap only), and dressed with a line dressing. Do yourself a favour and spend a few dollars more to get dressing from a fly line manufacturer. They know what they are doing. To stretch the line to get rid of reel memory, tie the line off to a post or tree in the yard, and roll it off the spool, and pull it past tight. Use some discretion. Stretching too hard can damage the PVC or the Dacron core.

Fly Reel: A modern fly reel is a remarkable piece of engineering. The tolerances are aircraft level and so are the materials. As such we have to take proper care to avoid damage. Most important? Keep the care instructions that come with your reel. Reels have different drag systems and some require different types of care. Know which one yours is. Take the spool off of the body and make sure you clean our any sand, grit, or dirt after every trip. In the spring, a drop of high quality oil (sewing machine as an example) on the moving parts and center shaft. It is also wise to check and screws that hold the reel together and ensure they are tight. A reel has a lot of movement during casting and they can work loose over time.

Fly Rod: I always check the guides for any grooves. A gritty line can make them easier than you might think. The tip guide takes the most abuse. If it is grooved or has sharp edges it should be replaced. A local rod builder can replace it easily. Also find yourself a silicone cloth to clean the blank, clean and smooth the guides and also to clean your reels as well. Check all of your fits on the rod sections and the strength of the handle and reel seat. Also check the ferrules and windings along the length of the rod. Damage to those could mean a repair or a replacement of the rod. Regular cleaning and careful use and storage can make a good rod last a lifetime.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Nova Scotia May Fly Hatch

The Black Quill. Leptophlebia cupida. The Nova Scotia may fly to most of us. It is a brief, fleeting moment really in the overall length of a season. For anglers here it is a roughly two week stretch of the most intense fishing of the year.

The Hatch as it is known is responsible for eating up a weeks vacation every year for 24 years. In my youth i fished the hatch at a lake called Governors in Harrietsfield. (Unfortunately riddled with Bass now but that is another discussion.) At 13 i was spending weekends there fishing what to this day remains maybe the heaviest hatch i have ever seen. At the age of 18 or so i started to move around the province more to target the hatch. I found out early on that smaller waters often produced by and large better fish. Not a rule, more an observation. So i started to look for those in the less pressured areas of the province. It was hit and miss but eventually, i found some.

So how do i approach it? The hatch is not rocket science, it is a blend of technique and will. It starts with wetting down some fir boughs and tapping fly from lakeside trees and brush onto them. They join me in the canoe, usually with my 8' Innovator HLS fly rod. Then, we have to find the spots to fish. Over time, you learn them. On your home waters you will in some ways master them. All are not always readily apparent. Some however, are. Points, shoals, submerged rocks, incoming streams are all good places to fish. If you have a wind blowing offshore and taking fly down a lake, usually somewhere on that winds path, you will find rising fish. On a day with a gentle breeze, you drop fly into the water and let the breeze move them. Then you wait. Sometimes not long, sometimes all day, until it happens. One raise, two more, three more. The game is on.

For a lot of years i have read, studied, explored and each year i still see something that i would not have thought of. Something that doesn't make a lot of sense. I still get surprised 31 years into the hatch. I suppose i will for as long as i am able to do it.

For fly choice, many would think the fly is known as the Black Quill, so you use a Black Quill. That is right, and wrong. In my youth at Governors, it was the fly of choice. Now, in the more pristine waters i swear by the Blue Upright. For some reason, not always apparent to me, it out-fishes a Black Quill by a wide margin. I also will use a Brown Quill more than the Black Quill. Maybe it is more comfortable for me. Maybe the Trout like it better. All i know is it works. All of the flies in sizes 12 through 16, although for me 14 seems to be best.

The best times to fish, early morning, first light in fact, and supper until dark in the evening. Now on cloudy/rainy days, this can extend all day long but a bright mid-day sun is not usually a bonus for someone fishing the hatch. For me the first and last light have been the most productive and most exciting, especially for large trout. My largest trout ever was caught in what would have had to have been the last cast of the night for loss of light. 18.5 inches and 3.75 pounds. Stephen caught one at the exact same time, almost the exact same size. When we fish our small lake near dark, seeing those large Trout move is an adrenaline rush. The most fun i have ever had fishing.

"The hatch" is a truly special time for a Nova Scotia Trout angler. For two or three weeks, we fish the most intense period of our season. Many fish have been caught, many stories told, many more to be written. We are about a month away. I am counting the days.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Bold Fly Reel

I was contacted last year by a Spanish company called Thinkfish about the launch of their new fly reel, the Thinkfish Bold. I was interested because i love different fly reels. I have things as simple as a Fenwick, to the cool Backwinder. When I got the information for the Bold, i was intrigued.

It is a 3 speed, semi automatic fly reel with their patented Surge drag system. Here is a quick run down. The reel has no handle to reel it in. Instead it has a lever or trigger that can be used to bring in line, fast or slow. One of the great features of this is that with your rod hand, you can use the lever to haul in slack line when a fish is hooked at amazing speed, without backlash. By simply using the lever at a slower rate, you can bring in a fish as the fight progresses.

The other great thing about this reel is the drag system. It has a 6 ball bearing, mixed cone, multi disc drag. This allows the drag to be deactivated during retrieval of line, allowing high speed retrieval, but engaging as line is fed out.

Top it all off, it looks fantastic. It is a little odd in North America. There have been some cheap automatic reels with no or useless drag systems. This is an engineered reel that rivals any reel you will ever see in build quality and execution. You can see more HERE. If any one has any questions or wants more info, you can email me at I can order them or send you more info. I will be fishing this reel in the next few weeks and will update on them as the season goes along.

Fishing season in Nova Scotia is three days away. Can't wait.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nova Scotia Trout Management - The Anglers Role

In any documents i have read about managing trout in Nova Scotia, they talk about "angler buy in". Basically it means getting the end user in the fishery involved in the process of collecting data and implementing programs. The toughest one of all comes down to finding a happy medium when it comes to creel limits.

As i mentioned before, when i was young, no one wanted to leave without "getting their limit", which was then 10 fish. Now at 5 fish, far too many fish to "get the limit". With that in mind, the limit for trout in type A waters should be reduced. Now i am not a catch and release only fisherman, but i keep in the area of three or four wild trout in a season now. One or two early season (mayfly) Brookies, and one or two sea trout in July. Everything else is released. Can the limit be reduced to one or two in Wild Trout Management or Type A waters? If they want to do it, they can. There might be backlash, but that is a necessary evil.

We as anglers can do other things on our own. Some of them very useful.

1- Set your own one or two fish limit- Have you ever thrown out a freezer burned fish? If so, you have likely been overfishing. For those who like to eat trout, and i am one, we know fresh ones are by far the best. We don't need a freezer full.

2- Barbless Hooks - With fly fishing this is, in my opinion, far less important than with live bait. Trout inhale things like worms and the hook can kill a fish before you even get a shot at releasing it by a barbed hook. A barbless hook makes a world of difference.

3- The Anglers Report Card- If you value the trout fishery in Nova Scotia, keep an accurate catch record, fill out the report card stub on your license and send it in. The more of these that Inland Fisheries receive, and the more accurate they are, the better the data is. This data can be key to identifying and planning the future of trout waters all over Nova Scotia.

I am very lucky. I fish Type A waters every year. I have a camp secluded in the middle of them. The truth is, there are a lot of them. The populations may not be what they once were, but the quality and size of fish is Trophy like for Nova Scotia. The thought of damage to these is something i don't like to think about. In the past 15 years i have changed a lot as an angler. I have done my share of damage, especially as a younger man. Now it is time to see what i can do to help. I have decided to join Trout Nova Scotia this year and try to do my small part to help control a bigger problem.

Maybe if a lot of anglers do this, the native population of Wild Brook Trout, which is a true natural treasure of Nova Scotia, can be saved and even improved. I have been asked in the past what my obsession with fishing for Brook Trout is. I never had a good answer other than i love doing it, until last year. Last year i caught a trout early in the season. Steven snapped a picture of me with it in the canoe, and it was then released. When i saw that picture it sort of hit me that i got to hold a living, breathing part of nature in my hands for a few seconds, and captured it forever in a photo. How may people really get to say that?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trout Management In Nova Scotia

This winter, I have wondered if there is a trout strategy in Nova Scotia. The Brook Trout fishery in Nova Scotia. Is it in crisis? If so what can be done to help it? If not, what can be done to make sure it won't happen? More importantly, what is being done.?

So before I start looking close at the urban fishery, I decided to look province wide. In 2005, the Nova Scotia government released their Trout Management Plan. While it was seen as a good start, albeit a late start, it was not without issues. Trout Nova Scotia combed through the plan and identified the weak points and areas it thought needed further study. You can read further on that here. Here are some key points in a nutshell in my opinion.

1- Identify "Type A" trout waters: Using anglers, conservation groups, and Inland Fishery resources, identify the waters and areas in Nova Scotia where the wild stocks are healthy now. It is much easier to keep them healthy now than it is to revive them later.

2- Set New And Alternative Limits: When I was young, the limit was 10 fish per day. Most people I knew made that their daily goal. The limit was then changed to 5 fish per day. Then most people made that their daily goal. In the waters identified above, the limit needs to be changed. Plenty of discussion can be had on what that limit should be, but one or two fish a day, maybe with a minimum size would be a major help.

3- Specialized Regulations: The implementation of things like catch and release only waters, minimum size catches, no live bait, and fly fishing only to name a few would be useful in identified areas.

4- Angler Involvement: I have always believed that making the angler feel involved will make them become involved. Programs that give them some sort of influence on the outcome are best. Partnering with associations like Trout Nova Scotia, Trout Unlimited, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association and the many river and watershed associations around the province would help make he angler more aware, and feel more empowered.

5- Follow Up And Data Collection: No plan, and no program works unless it is followed up and the data is collected so that both successes and failures can be studied and learned from.

These five things that were identified by Trout Nova Scotia as key points in a new management plan, are all extremely accurate. It is not too late to save some great angling waters in this province. Once they are gone, it is a much bigger task to bring them back.

For those who want to read more about this, visit the Trout Nova Scotia links above and click here to read the Trout Management Plan from the Nova Scotia government site.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Foggy Wednesday

My alarm goes off at 5:30 in the morning. I am not in the comfort of my own bed, yet I am still strangely comfortable. The camp at this hour is still dark, and with the overnight fire gone, the air is crisp. The kettle slips on to the just lit burner and the water on it's bottom hisses. Within minutes i am on the front deck, a steaming cup of tea in my hand. The sky is just warming with some light, but the air is damp, and foggy. We have been in since Sunday, and every day has been the same. Today appears to offer nothing different.

It had not been my best trip so far. In 2 full days of fishing, i caught one fish. A 10 inch monster whose catch and release took 30 seconds of my time. I saw many. I had spread fly over the water and was rewarded with moving fish. I just couldn't catch them. While Steven and Derrick were at another lake getting fish each day, my stubborn side kept me at the small lake. Looking for that elusive "lurker" i saw move the first morning in the water. My tunnel vision has taken over.

I arrive at my canoe and look over at the far shore. There is a slight breeze from the diagonal at the shore. Like Tuesday, I release fly and let the breeze take them to the shore. Nothing. I do it again. This time a nice trout moves. Not a "lurker" but a good fish. I cast and my fly lands a foot shy. I leave it and the trout takes. I miss it, and it is gone. Those seven words have been my week. I paddle to shore, and as I am about to get out and head for the camp, I decide to reload with fly and try once more.

My fly make it to shore untouched. The breeze takes them along the shoreline past the white crown land marker. As it does, a raise. Then another. Then two more. I cast into the middle of it. It seems it is another small fish but right now I'll take it. The fish takes my fly and to my surprise, my rod bends heavily as i set the hook. The size of a fish while it is in the water is hard to guess. All I know is it is the largest trout I have ever had hooked. It's tail breaks the surface and sends water flashing to the rocks. It goes deep again and takes line from the reel. As it gets close to the boat it nears the surface. It is huge. It's belly is dark red, and the fins a stark white edged in black.

In the end, 17.5 inches and about 3 pounds of native Brook Trout. A prize any angler would be proud of. Amongst the small talk at the camp in the evenings are the stories of the one that got away and the one that you will hook tomorrow. On this night, my glass of rum warmed me a little better. The foggy morning that did not impress me when i awoke, was the sky i hoped for the next day. After three days of fishing i had caught two trout. One 10 inch monster that took 30 seconds to land, and one a little bit bigger. I couldn't have been happier.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Halifax: An Urban Trout Fishery

I am not an environmentalist. As an angler, maybe i should be but i am a believer in progress as well. I am a firm believer society can move ahead, and co-exist with nature. There is a middle ground. The problem is, we fail to find it and embrace it. Many believe Trout fishing in Halifax is approaching non existent. The reasons are numerous. Overfishing is one. Mis-management is another. The environment and urban development as well. And of course there is the introduction of predators to the trout waters near the city.

The truth is there is still good trout fishing around Halifax. Not the great fishing you get up the Eastern and Northumberland shores, but good. Trout management around the city for too long has been simple stocking for recreational angling. A need for sure, but not a long term plan. There have been successful projects in other places that have not only revitalized the trout fisheries, but have made them into trophy destination fisheries.

So in the new section of the blog i am going to talk about the trout fishery around Halifax. The good, the bad, the ugly. There is still some good fishing to be had for the angler who is willing to explore a bit. So each week i will look at the fishery in and around the city. The past, the present and the future, and maybe what is being done and what we can do to try and help bring it back to it's former glory.