Tuesday, December 11, 2007

December Trout


Went fishing yesterday. See you in the spring.

(For the record: The length of the day is currently 5 hours.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fly-fishing Tradition

Importance and role of the tradition in fly-fishing is substantial. There are flies and methods used by anglers hundreds of years ago, the reel is pretty much similar in design as it was when first invented, and the reason to fish is pretty much the same as is was before as long as we are talking about fly-fishing.

march brown wet fly

About a month ago I tied a few March Browns, winged wet flies dating back a long time. In the 80s I was with my parents fishing the Ruunaa Rapids in Eastern Finland. I had a fly rod and had bought, or at least whined to my parents long enough that they had bought me, a package of of three wets, pretied in a leader. I remember the horrible mess the rig was after a few minutes of serious rod waving. One of the flies was a March Brown Silver. I caught couple of fish. They were bleak, no trout for me back then, thank you.

I intented to visit the Ruunaa again last August but instead decided to go to the very heart of Finnish brown trout fly-fishing tradition, the Huopana. It is not a big river, or at least long, only about 1.2 km or .75 miles.


But its every pool and channel has been named and there are even rocks that have names. Those rocks are named after fishermen. That is what I call tradition.


The whole milieu of the river is unique. The houses, the old bridge, and even the old hydroelectricity plant just belongs there. As well as the fishermen (no more than 10 per day with the current regulations) and the brown trout.


The all time sport tackle record trout from Huopana was landed by Mr. Bruno Alanko on 22nd of August 1933 using "a yellow fly". That was 8.3 kilograms or 18.5 pounds of lake-run brown trout.

I visited the river exactly 74-years later. After a short but good night sleep in my car I saw two fly fishermen with a story to tell. "I just lost the trout of my life" was the first thing the younger man said to me when we met. With wide eyes and stunned expression on his face he told me about the trout he hooked and played for good thirty minutes. The hands of the older man were wide apart when he estimated the size of the fish with his hands. At least 5 kilograms he said. The fish broke of just when they thought that they could finally land him.

The tradition of fly-fishing is not static. It lives and evolves as we read, write, talk, and dream about it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

After the sunset


River flows gently, almost silently, under a bridge. Fish from the bridge as there is no sign to deny it. Although never really searched for it.

Have the feeling that nothing will be caught. The certainty. Don't fight it, not this time.

A sudden splash of water made by a big fish. Move to the left bank and cast. Nothing. The fish splashes somewhere else now, out of sight, out of reach.

Return to the bridge, and watch the light fade.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Trout Rigs & Methods by Dave Hughes


Dave Hughes has always had systematic approach in his books. In Trout Rigs & Methods (Stackpole Books, 2007) he divides trout fly fishing techniques into set of rigs and methods to fish these rigs. The result is an explanation of lots of ways to fish trout. Its downside is certain amount of repetition as different rigs and methods do have lot in common. To my eyes this book is a valuable source book for hardcore fly fisher--over 300 pages of rigs and methods is not for sissies (and I did read it all).

This is starting to sound like a review. I don't want to do that. I simply want to make a few comments about the book. I'll keep it simple: a) lots of fishing techniques in the book, b) some good history stuff but not very much, c) I'm sure I'll put some of these rigs and methods in good use, d) no really deep insight but there are other books for that purpose.

Well, maybe this is a review.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Buster had coped with the misery of their childhood by escaping to the swamp or river to fish."

Linda Anderson writes in her book When Night Falls:

"Buster liked to fish. Jeb and Buster had coped with the misery of their childhood by escaping to the swamp or river to fish.

Not that his cousin ever knew he was having a miserable childhood. Buster was an idiot. He was mentally deficient, except for processing data and operating computers."

And perhaps fishing?

Now there is a group of bloggers still trying to cope with childhood traumas by fishing. I'll bet that Linda Anderson hasn't heard any of them, and they hardly know Linda. I'll introduce them: Linda, meet Buster. Buster, meet Linda.

Read what they have to say at Buster Wants to Fish.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Deep Sparkle Pupa Variation

Green Deep Sparkle Pupa

My favourite caddis pupa pattern is Gary LaFontaine's Deep Sparkle Pupa. Green has been most effective color for me. I have replaced the hackle fibres of the original pattern with lively CDC fibres. This fly is fast to tie and ugly enough for trout to love it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Black Zulu Special

Black Zulu Variation

Here is a variation of an old classic, the Black Zulu. This fly is tied on heavy wire grubber hook with a bead. Orange yarn is used instead of standard wool tag. It hardly makes a difference; actually this fly works well even without the tag.

I use this fly as a searching pattern. It works for trout, grayling, and white fish.

Storm Approaching

My son, fishing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An August Morning

From Small Streams

Sometimes it gets down right magical.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rod Building - Part 15.1: Who's whistling?

So far I have done all the steps required to build a fly rod. But there is a but. I have been casting with the rod and there are a few things I'm not happy with:

  • The stripping guides are making a sound like whistling with sand in your mouth.
  • Guides in the tip section are not perfectly aligned.

I think I'm going to buy some acetone and take a few steps backwards...

From Fly Rod

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


This is the post #201 of this blog. It has been fun, but...

... I'm going to continue nonetheless.

One of the highlights of this blog was when Jeffrey Prest, Features Editor of UK based 'Trout Fisherman' magazine, inquired could they publish a picture taken by me on their magazine. I naturally agreed and the following picture was published on the August 2007 issue.

It's not everyday that our toilet is on a magazine.

However, what has clearly been best is the new friends. Thank you.

Wyatt, how about a fly swap this winter?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Spey casting with a single-handed rod

Or Learning to cast again

I learned fly casting without instructors but by reading books, casting, and casting. It was in mid 80s and I was a pimple-faced teenager with a noodle fibreglass rod. Back then my books considered moving the wrist in casting as a critical mistake.

To keep a long story short, I haven't developed to be a great caster. Over the years I started to caught fish and was satisfied to my mediocre fly casting skills. At some point I reached the conclusion that only way to cast better was by applying less power. But then there is the thing called muscle memory. It has been very hard to change my casting stroke.

Beyond Overhead and Roll Casting

A few years ago I began to experiment with the underhand cast. It is widely popular here in Scandinavia, but I must confess that I haven't really mastered it. The I saw a video clip of the double spey cast with a single-handed rod. It looked familiar, and I realized that in fishing I used a cast not totally unlike the double spey. Then one day last summer I was fishing and I was casting the double spey. It felt great, and it was far more effective for the situation than traditional roll casting.

A few weeks ago a friend lent me a DVD entitled Rio's Modern Spey Casting, and I became a child again. I mean that I'm beginning to rival my kids on a competition how many times the same DVD can be watched. Simon Gawesworth has explained the basic principles of Spey casting to me so many times that they are starting to stick. Surely, in the DVD he casts mostly with a double-handed rod, but Spey casting is not about double-handed rods, it is about manoeuvring the line to position for forward cast, it is about D-loops and anchors. All these principles work with single-handed rods as well as with two-handed rods.

Wetting the line

I have been on a lake shore half a dozen times practising. The beginning was miserable. I think I managed to make every mistake possible. My D-loops were out of control, anchors either stick piles of line or nonexistent, and I apparently had no sense of timing. My hand was hurting as I tried to fix everything with power, a manly solution to everything. But my double spey was working and one switch cast out of twenty sent the line far and fine. So I returned home to listen Simon.

Last Saturday I went to the shore again.This time I had memorized the rod path for the snakeroll. I did it a dozen times and the misery continued. Only then I realized that my line was pointing to the wrong direction before the forward casting stroke. It was perfectly aligned if the direction I wanted to cast was behind me. I felt stupid when I realized that I drown a G-shape not the e-shape; clockwise instead of correct counter clockwise e-shaped rod path. I changed it and snakeroll started working, the anchor was right there where it was supposed to be. I added the splash-and-go timing of the airborne anchor cast and the line was flying and unrolling beautifully.

It felt great. And all the sudden I managed the switch cast and the single spey as well. All these casts have the airborne anchor. Splash-and-go, and it did.

My Spey casting has only began. There are lots of faults to be fixed. It is still quite common that the line (and my self esteem as a caster) falls down into a messed pile of misery. But when I concentrate well, have patience, and don't apply too much power, the line unrolls beautifully, or at least decently, and I have the sense of success that I need to keep on going.

At the moment like these I also remember that it is not the destination, it is about the journey.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Colors of the Brown - Part 4

From Trout

And finally, but hardly exclusively, there is the Bright Trout. Silver and black are the main colors when she slowly transforms the lake disguise to her river dress.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Colors of the Brown - Part 3

From Trout

Among the strongest colors of the brown trout is yellow. The sight of yellow bellied trout is enough to raise you from the depths of oblivion. It fills you with awe, and again you are able to see the beauty of life as it was meant to be seen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Colors of the Brown - Part 2

And sometimes they are painted in gold.

From Trout

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Colors of the Brown - Part 1

Sometimes they actually are brown.

From Trout

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Comment

Rod Building - Part 15: The Varnish

I have used Gudebrod Rod Varnish with this rod. It is easier to use than epoxy based two part solutions, but several more coats of varnish are required.

From Fly Rod

Here is the hook keeper. It is from my first fly rod, a cheap Daiwa fiberglass rod from the 80s. The Daiwa rod is my only fiberglass rod and it is now broken. Well, at least the hook keeper is in use with my first ever custom rod. I'll try not to get all sentimental because of this.

From Fly Rod

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rod Building - Part 14: Wrapping things up

From Fly Rod

I finally had time to continue my rod building project. I had purchased single footed guides to replace the original snake guides that came with the TFO Kit. Compared to two footed guides, single footed guides are more difficult to attach to the rod blank with tape. With two footed guides you can tape one foot of the guide to the blank and wrap the thread to the other foot.

Next part: The Varnish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Big Fish

The river is wide at the point where you’re fishing. The current surprisingly deep and strong. You remove split-shot and flies from your line, and tie on a size 14 pupa pattern and a streamer. Normally you use a smaller fly on the dropper and a streamer as the point fly, this time it is the other way around.

There is an underwater rock so you let your flies swing in front of it. A swirl of water, a big fish takes a fly. It runs about five or six meters towards the other bank and stops. Then it jumps. One lazy I’ll-let-you-see-me jump. It is a huge rainbow trout.

Judging by the distance of the tip of the fly line and the jumping fish you guess it has taken the point fly, the small pupa pattern. That would mean a 5X tippet. The trout swims upstream. There is no haste in the movement. Then it stops below another underwater rock. A moment later you began to suspect that the other fly is stuck.

Minutes later, after all tricks you know to get a fish moving, you pull the line until it breaks. Reel in to see that both flies are gone.

After a moment of thought you tie a new tippet and a dropper and identical patterns. Later you catch trout, but they are not like the big fish.

Monday, September 03, 2007

On the road

There aren't many things that can beat the rush of knowing that within two hours drive there is a great trout river. Some things that are valuable beyond any measure are left behind, but what lies ahead is imagination becoming reality.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Snake Roll and other advanced casting techniques

Speycasting is natural way to cast, as my five-year-old son demonstrates:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to business

Of the last three weeks we spent only one night at home.

Stay tuned for new fishing stories and pictures…

Thursday, August 02, 2007

With this ring, I thee wed...

Some time ago, a precious little Orvis Superfine fly rod was given to me.

Now, she has a companion for life (or at least for the 24-and-half years what is left of the warranty). Say hi to my new Orvis CFO III reel!

They were made for each other.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In the darkest hour of the brightest night

A midnight in June. I recall it in vivid fragments.

The cold moistness of wet hands, the roar of powerful rapids above, and the silvery water, full of tiny air bubbles, flowing rapidly in a strong run.

They are background for the real show.

Heart stops beating when a trout—a big one, it is no place for small trout—rockets out of the strongest current straight up, turns in the air and descents back into the water. Heart beats again. Fast. A moment later it happens again, then another fish, and another, and then the biggest and stoutest of all. They are perfect.

It lasted about 30 minutes.


It lasted a lifetime.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Towards the Essence

Being, once again, a half way through another trout fishing season I’ve, again, started to think about my gear. When I started fly fishing, I simply wanted to get all the stuff needed to catch the fish. Back then it meant that I needed to get everything; different rods and reels and lines for different conditions, all flies imaginable for the most unimaginable conditions, a fully loaded fly fishing vest, and so on. I was a teenager and my parents didn’t share my enthusiasm, so, perhaps luckily, I didn’t get everything I wanted.

In last few years I’ve been slipping more and more towards minimalism when it comes to the gear. The minimalism was not my idea, but when I read about it, when I thought about it, I found that it suits me perfectly. I had a lot of stuff, but I had already fished enough to know that I needed only a fraction of it.

A wife of a fly fisherman may think that this minimalism is a good thing, an idea that saves family resources, both time and money, and for the most part this is correct. But there are exceptions, like when I decided to simplify my fly selection, and to drop the number of my fly boxes down to two, I had to buy two fly boxes. And I also had to tie all my flies again. So it cost a bit money (if you're going to use only two boxes, they better be quality boxes) and a lot of time (about every Tuesday evening from September to May).

Half way through this season I look the contents of these two boxes and I know that the flies I actually use 99 % of the time would require the space of a half of a fly box. I’m currently searching such a fly box. Once I had a vest, then a chest pack, then a wading jacket, and now I'm thinking about a pocket that can hold one small to medium sized fly box. Then, when I have again minimized my gear, I start to slip again to the other direction. I’ll take some extra flies or a new gadget for next fishing trip. Little by little I’ll start to accumulate more and more gear. And it’s fine.

What is the essence then? I’m slowly beginning to learn what there actually is to learn. For all I know the gear has very little to do with it. They are means to an end. But even the end is not the point. Perhaps more time than thinking the answer should be spent thinking the question. If you say “I'm fishing to catch fish” then you either have the wrong answer or the right answer for the wrong question.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Combat Fly-Fishing

I’m not the biggest fan of competition fly fishing. I feel that it is needed for the sport but it also represents some aspects that, to my view, are not in the essence of fly fishing. One obvious aspect is competition; others include targeting the small fish and overall haste of the whole activity.

However, I like to be able to catch more fish, and I like to catch fish when nobody is catching them. This is where some knowledge of competition fly fishing tactics become valuable. One article worth of reading is Combat Fly-Fishing by Charles Jardine. He was spying the Young Master Jedi Fly Fishers at the World Youth Fly Fishing championships. The tactics are far beyond standard short line Czech Nymphing.

Gradually, I slipped from an envious glance to a more analytical view and began to see what the fly fisher was doing.

This is Fly - Issue 2

Sir Jackson recommended to open This is Fly online magazine, to go to the page 21 for some reggae music, and to start reading.

I did that. You do it. It's really refreshing. My favourite part is Lodge Record by Jen Hodges (page 25):

What I have learned from my fishing experience with my husband and speaking with female anglers around the world is this- when you see the uber, agro, super duper, square chinned guy with the trophy shot.... Understand one thing the person holding the camera (spouse, guide, girlfriend) most likely caught the fish.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Good morning

My cousin and I were fishing this morning. Just at a local river, just for about four hours. There were reasonably good number of fish feeding on surface, grayling and brown trout.

I had fair luck with grayling, but demonstrated some poor judgment on the leader department. When I rigged up, I noticed that the leader was full of small nicks, but lazy me just replaced the tippet section and started fishing. Two trout broke it easily before I replaced the leader with a new one.

Then I hooked a decent trout, around 50 cm or 20 inches, and it fought hard. I was just about to show him the net when it turned and threw the hook. Just like that. No mistakes were made but it got away. It happens, I know, it has happened before and will happen again. I took a moment; there was a rock to sit on and a cigar to smoke.

Life is good, or as Mike puts it: “Sometimes in fishing you realise that life doesn't really get any better.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The view from a bridge

While others look forward a fisherman looks down.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Are you fishing enough?

How can you tell you're not fishing enough?

There are a few good signs like: nobody is complaining or your fishing gear can't be packed to go in 5 minutes.

Or you can simply check your wading boots:

A wasp nest is a definite sign.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The 12th Hour

You close your eyes. It’s about 6 am in the morning and you’ve been fishing since 7 pm previous day. At some point you were too tired to fish so you sat eyes blanked at campfire, ate a few sausages with mustard, and drank two beers. Then, while the others went sleeping or left, you continued fishing. And you landed trout. A good one, too.

The river is located between lakes, as most rivers of the region, and has only two sections that are fishable without boat. Runs are short, wide, and extremely strong. But so are its trout: short, stout, and extremely strong. In here, where you live, they are legendary. A lot of fishermen come after these trout but only a few catch them.

You’ve been awake for almost 24 hours. You have been fishing for about 11 hours with only a few small breaks. You have a tent but no sleeping bag. Somehow the idea of driving home to sleep lured its way to your mind and you actually took off your leaking waders, sat behind the wheel and started driving. Driving at this mental stage is not a wise decision; it’s an act of insanity. Your mind paid no attention to such introspection. But, instead of driving home, you drove to the other river section.

You’ve somehow managed to dodge the crowd. First, in the evening, you selected different river section than most of other fishermen, and now in the morning, you were just about to drive home but decided to check the crowded section before you leave and found out that there was only one car left. So, instead of leaving, you sit behind the wheel with your eyes closed. You try to recall all the moments of last hours but memories are fussy. After a minute or two you hear engine starting and the car drives away. You are alone in a great trout stream.

A moment later you are gazing the river from bridge. A pocket water section looks tempting. You tie on John Goddard’s famous caddis dry fly and Lennart Berqvist’s pupa pattern. You figure that the English pattern will be a very attractive indicator and the Swedish pattern would be the choice of a picky trout.

When you get into the water and start casting you notice that you can’t see your indicator fly from roughness of the surface. Sleep deprivation isn’t helping either. But this is what you love so you keep on fishing.

Mind and body become separated. Body is fishing; mind is dreaming and enjoying the ride.

Suddenly you see a flash of light below the surface.

“Hey! That looked like a fish!” your concussions mind says with astonishment.

No kidding.” subconscious mind would reply if it could talk. While conscious mind is speaking, subconscious mind is acting: right hand raises the rod and left hand pulls the line.

“I’m getting good at this!” says the conscious mind.

You are getting good at this?” would be the answer.

You get back into the car and start driving home. An hour later you stop the car, close your eyes and fall to sleep.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Straightening the leader - or "opax-flyfishing tip of the year"

Although, it is hardly the focus of this fly fishing blog to give fly fishing advice or tips, I'm going to do it this time. I was reading a thread in a fly fishing forum where beginning fly fisherman was asking how to straighten the leader when it is taken off the reel after a while or when the leader is new. I was surprised by the answers that were given. I thought that everybody a bit less than little experienced fly fishers knew the answer but all sort of hints and tips were given. Of course ,there is more than one way to do this, but the simplest solution that is used by me and was also given by a few guys that answered the question goes like this: a normal trout fishing leader can be straightened by stretching it when it is slightly heated.

1. Right hand fingers hold the fly line leader junction, left hand fingers takes a strong grip of the leader.
2. Pull about half a meter (2 feet) of the leader between left hand fingers so that it feels hot but doesn't burn the fingers. This is the heating part of the procedure.
3. Stretch the piece of leader with both hands.
4. Move right hand next to left hand and repeat the procedure until all of the leader is straightened.

There, no need to buy any fancy gadget or get a good bottom snag and break the leader in order to straighten it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Flytier's Page: Levern "VERN-O" Burm

Take a look at Levern "VERN-O" Burm's Gallery featured in Flytier's Page by Hans Weilenmann. Great flies and great photographs.

I have the privilege to own some flies tied by Vern. We made a fly swap last Spring when he sent me a few US trout flies and I mailed him back some Finnish trout flies.

VERN-O's flies can be purchased online via JS Fly Fishing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fisheye perspective

This is why the fish try to escape when I try to release them.

The photo is shot from underwater.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Mayfly from Hell

From Life

When I take the kids to park I never leave my camera home. I mostly take pictures of my children, but, as my son pointed out, I also take a lot of pictures of bugs.

This is a mayfly. The picture was taken with strong underexposure, and finally accidentally edited with Picasa's Tint filter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Priorities: Setting things straight

It was every bit as good as I told you it would be.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Priorities: Upside Down

It is mid June and trout fishing is absolutely perfect right now.

I haven't been able go fishing for two weeks. I have the usual excuses, let's not get into those.

No excuses. Not one. None.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fly Fisherman's Entomology 101

I call it a yellow may fly with huge1) orange eye balls. An online translator gives it a Latin name of crocus may no per ingens orange oculus balls.

Simplify: A size 18 yellow dun.

1) Hugeness here is relative to the size of a bug.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Caddis Larva

From Life
It's a size 12 olive caddis larva.

From Fly-patterns