Sunday, September 30, 2012

Once Upon A Time In Mexico...

The Dean of the Roaring Fork Valley: Tim Heng

Stats Box:

Started fly fishing: 1964.

Reason: Reading Outdoor Life.

First Rod: Cane rod from Sears & Roebuck.

First Fish on the Fly: Bluegill.

Official Age of Addiction: 17.

John Gierach in “Even Brook Trout Get the Blues,” describes his experience floating the Roaring Fork as a “Montana-style, fast paced, big-water assault where you get one cast per spot, and then your line is in the air as you look downstream for the next place that ought to hold a fish…. It was one of those rare times when something just short of telepathy was going on between the guide and the sport…. There were moments when we were functioning as a single unit with two oars, two fly rods and three heads.” This was 1992, the guide, Tim Heng.

Once, affectionately known as “Curly,” more has changed since Tim arrived in the Roaring Fork Valley than the deepening smile lines etched at the corners of his eyes. In 1981, Tim started Roaring Fork Anglers, a fly shop and guide service out of Glenwood Springs. In 1985 Tim sold Roaring Fork Anglers and continued working there until 1990 when he was approached to manage Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt by Bill Fitzsimmons.

Tim describes the early eighties as a relatively quiet time in the valley—there were only two guide services floating the Roaring Fork and Colorado. Talking with Tim I began wondering about how good the fishing must have been with so few boats on the river, but Tim adamantly shook his head saying that it has only gotten better over the years with increasing trout populations.

As some of you might have heard, Tim has been semi-retired for the past few years now. That is, he and his wife Cheryl pack up the house and travel from October through May to Mexico. I asked Tim if this is a retirement and he said “It’s a semi-retirement. The chance for me to fish my &^%! off for the next five months.” If there was ever any doubt about how passionate Tim is about fly fishing, even after a lifetime of it, let it come to rest.

Tim and Cheryl are planning to work their way down the Pacific Mainland, cruising through places like Mazatlan, Kino Bay, and San Carlos with kayak and fly rods in tow. “Not a lot of fly fishing has been done along that coast,” says Tim with a knowing grin. He’s planning on catching his fair share of Sierra Mackerel and hopefully some Rooster Fish before heading states-side in the spring to continue his fly fishing exodus before joining us at Taylor Creek in June.

Reflecting so far on his life-time of fly fishing, Tim says it is “the constantly changing environment” of fly fishing he appreciates most. “Whether it is your favorite river you’ve fished hundreds of times and you suddenly see it in a different light, or you find yourself in a new location, there is no question,” says Tim, “Roderick Haig-Brown might have said it as well as anyone: fish live in beautiful places. And I’m not entirely sure if it is the fish that brings you to the place, or the place that brings you to the fish.”

Back in late December 2008, as Kirk and I were helping Tim move some of the books from his fly fishing study in his house to the shop, I was admiring pictures, cards, and old awards and began thinking about how much of an effect Tim has had on fly fishing in the Roaring Fork Valley. “Oh, I don’t know,” Tim replied when I asked him. “I mean you don’t want to be a wallflower, you want to get out there and make things happen.”

Written by Cameron Scott, fly fishing guide/poet, Taylor Creek Fly Shop
Reprinted from TC's annual publication, Fly On the Wall, 2008

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

90 Degrees and Heating Up

After many guide trips anglers often ask how the guide(s) were rigging their indicator systems, often mentioning that they were using a “Ninety degree rig”. More often than not, many anglers actually utilize this configuration on there own without realizing it. The 90 degree set up is one of the most effective nymph configurations available to anglers. In this article we are going to explain the benefits of a 90 degree rig and why we fish it, how to set it up and finally how to adjust it.

When we say that anglers actually use this system on their own without realizing it, we are referring to anglers that utilize Dry-Dropper or Hopper-Dropper-Dropper setups. The 90 degree term is derived from the leader extending out to the fly\indicator and then the nymphs being situated directly beneath the fly\indicator, thus forming a 90 degree angle.

At some point, the effectiveness and merits of the dry-dropper or hopper- dropper were desired for use in attaining greater depths, which required much more weight! When tried with a Hopper, the system simply could not support the amount of weight required for deeper depths. Some common on the water sense suggested that the guide\angler simply replace the Hopper with a highly buoyant strike indicator in order to support the increased amount of weight in order to get down deeper. The Ninety degree setup pictured here shows how the nymphs truly sit directly under the indicator.

There are three primary reasons many prefer the 90 degree setup. The first one is when your indicator is in the seam, you know your flies are right where you want them! The second aspect is that since a tapered leader is omitted, your flies get down much faster! Lastly, this configuration has the overall setup in more direct contact with the indicator which makes each bite trigger the indicator more quickly resulting in faster and surer hook set.

Getting down fast counts! The thin diameter of several sections of tippet provides less resistance and sinks more readily than a tapered leader. A tapered leader’s diameter and stiffness in the butt section provides much more resistance as the weight is trying to pull it down. Also, the stiffness of the butt prevents your flies from getting directly beneath your indicator.

The traditional nymph rig configured with a tapered leader (pictured above) depicts how the flies will layout past the indicator instead of directly beneath it. Now, each of these configurations have their places and there is no right or wrong. Understanding the benefits and limitations of each can allow an angler a more well rounded bag of tricks to adjust under angling conditions. The ninety degree setup is best used in heavy water, pocket water, really deep pools, from rafts or drift boat where getting your flies down and or down quickly makes all the difference.

Since we’ve discussed the positives of the 90 degree rig, let’s discuss some of the commonly interpreted drawbacks. The two most common hindrances of the ninety degree configuration are the extra steps it takes to lengthen or shorten the setup. The second is casting this setup. This system does not use a tapered leader and because the indicator remains in a fixed position, a few extra knots are required to shorten or lengthen the rig. For many the thought of an extra knot or two can be a deal sealer, however for those willing to try it the rewards of this system greatly outweighs the time the extra knot or two takes. The casting hindrances revolve around the fact that since a tapered leader is omitted this rig can be more tangle prone. The stiff butt of tapered leader assists in minimizing tangles to a slight degree. Casting is what truly creates or minimizes tangles! The simple solution of sticking with the roll cast will minimize the risk of tangling with ANY nymph setup. Anyone trying to cast an indicator with split shot followed by two flies with a traditional overhead cast is asking to tangle! Simply roll cast any nymph set up and you’ll discover that you’ll spend more time fishing than untangling you nymph rig!

The set up of this system is not difficult. You will need several spools of tippet (preferably Flourocarbon), an indicator with an “O” Ring or Grommet. Our favorite indicator has become the Thing-a-ma-bobber because it is ultra sensitive, its’ zero maintenance (no additional floatant needed), it doesn’t freeze in the winter and the grommet is a great attachment point. Split shot and flies! You will attach your indicator to a stout butt section about three feet from your fly line with an improved clinch knot. We have discovered that if you use a standard clinch it can slip and pull free. It can be quite comical to witness your indicator swimming randomly around your favorite pool after the butt section knot slipped and the fish has swam off with your entire setup, indicator and all. It reminds me of the scene from Jaws while they track the shark by the “Barrels” harpooned to the beast! They go under then pop back up! After you have attached the indicator to Butt section you will connect (again with an Improved Clinch) a section (generally) of 0X or 1X tippet to the indicator. The length of section “A” is determined by how long you need the setup to be. Section “B” is simply a tapering transition, usually about a foot to eighteen inches. This enables you to connect section “B” to “C” (section “C” will also be a foot to eighteen inches) which is connected to your fly. Hence you can follow the following formula; start with 0X connect to 2X to 4X to your lead fly. The tippet between your lead fly and your dropper should then be 4X or smaller. You can also go 1X to 3X to 5X to your lead fly and out to your dropper. So if you begin with three feet of 0X a foot or so of 2X and a foot or so of 4X to your fly, your set up is roughly 4 feet from your split shot and 5 feet from you lead fly. To shorten simply cut the 0X at the indicator cut down and re-tie with an improved clinch. To lengthen simply cut the 0X at the indicator, splice the additional length of 0X to the existing tippet and retie to the indicator with an improved clinch.

Those who really enjoy or fish nymphs a lot will certainly benefit from trying this configuration. It does without question require a little more time to set up and a few extra knots to lengthen and shorten. However in tight confines where getting your flies down quickly or when casting from a drifting boat when you need to get your shots in quickly this setup really shines. Give it try to see if it works for you.

Text and photos by Will Sands, Manager Taylor Creek Fly Shop