It’s Stick-N-String Time
Written By: Bill Adelman, March 13, 2012
Depending on the season, the stick-n-string reference can be interpreted two ways. It’s either a long bow and a wooden arrow, or a flyrod and floating line.
For our purposes here, it’s the latter. Even though many of our trout streams offer either year around or limited off season winter fishing, the opening day of trouting is still special, especially to we “older” types. We recall the anticipation as the men of the family began preparations about a month in advance, while us kids just watched as Dad suddenly became extremely focused in his activities. Then Mom would mumble, “Where did this come from?”
Back in the 40’s, (hush up), the men generally used what we today refer to as casting reels, except the spool went in both directions with no drag system. It also held string rather than line. The question of what pound test “catgut” leader to use was on everyone’s lips.
The only fly guy was my stogy, can’t anyone do anything right, grampa. Memories of those days remain vivid as his old, slightly warped bamboo flyrod and single action reel, still filled with what feels like wire line, hangs with honors over a window valance in my home. His fixed blade guttin’ knife rests on the dresser.
Today the opening of the season holds very little importance for the fisherman, unless you’re really old or fish with a stick-n-string, which I now do. It’s really an ambience motivation, as it takes me 30 minutes to prep my tackle after arriving at the creek, while the spin guy already has 2 fish. It’s not however, one of those uppity fly fishing purist things.
Spinning and casting gear are an integral part of my angling arsenal. It’s just that finally hooking a hatchery trout on a home tied fly is a feeling of accomplishment. It’s obviously important that certain waters should be protected with barbless, catch and release regulations, but I don’t believe that every stretch of pristine, native trout water should be restricted to only the fly guy.
The long stick comes in many lengths and weights. The one weight blank can, in an emergency, be used as a shoelace. The original vaulting pole is today a 15 weight blank. As a rod builder, (see the last paragraph), the most asked question is, can you build an all purpose rod?
NOPE. For most trout applications, a 4 to 6 weight is a good choice. The 6 to 8 weight is excellent for shad, schoolie stripers and local steelheading. Should you wish to hit the delta for bigger stripers or rivers for salmon, check out the 8 to 10 weights. If you want to hit the salt for really big fish, travel for peacock bass or 100 pound tarpon, grab a 12 to 15 weight. Reels are available to match the length and weight of the rod.
Fly line comes in so many options that it’s a good idea to put the line catalog in the in-home library, when you’ve got plenty of perusal time. Floating, sink tip, full sinking and shooting heads are all required to fill out your fly fishing program. Floating lines are specific to fishing dry flies or nymphs in shallow water, ie: the Feather or American Rivers, where normal depths are 3-5 feet. A small split shot sinks the nymph, not the line.
In deeper flowing water, the sink tip is required. Most of the line will float, but the last 10-20 feet will sink, as it’s lead impregnated. The full sinking line, all impregnated, will sink uniformly in deeper water, ie: a lake while float tubing. The shooting head, which comes in many weights, is a 30 foot line, really heavy and generally attached to a running line, ie: Amnesia. At twenty pound test, Amnesia is not only easy to handle, but easy on the fingers as well. A couple of well placed Band-Aids will prevent damage to the skin.
This article doesn’t ripple the surface when it comes to the fly fishing experience. Just as with any endeavor that proves to be fulfilling, so will tossing a fly once the technique is learned. The word “mastered” came to mind, but that’s just wishful thinking for most of us. It’s an on-going process, so we just gotta live with the fumbling and bumbling that is intrinsic to flyfishing. Should you be within hearing distance of another learner, don’t be surprised at an occasional verbal outburst. You probably won’t hear any words you’ve never heard, but they might be in a different order.
Many years ago, while Hat Creek was beating me to a pulp, (one fish in three days), there was an angler who needed some help. After offering assistance, we shook hands and moved in different directions. Upon returning to my truck, there was a note under my wiper. It simply said, “Thank you. Tight Lines”!! The impression stuck and to this day I sign off every article or column with “Tight Lines”. It just seems to be sincere and to the point. The following is the previously referred to “last paragraph”.
Somewhere in the Trout and Kokanee Journal is an ad for flyrods. If you missed it, here’s the news. My all brand new show fly rods are being closed out at 25% off the price. The ad is self explanatory. Please check it out and should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the guy that built them. Should your interest in the stick-n-string be piqued, give it a try. When you bump into me on the Mokelumne or Stanislaus Rivers, with my long stick, just say Hi Bill, and Tight Lines!!