Friday, September 28, 2012

Troutstalker 6pc.

Here is a beautiful travel rod I've just finished for a client who needed a good multipiece fast action trout rod. I was very confident on building him a rod from a Dan Craft FTL blank in six pieces. These already classic blanks, are known for their smooth feel, light weight and power. As many already know, the rods I build are done with the best blanks I can possibly find. I won't ever spend countless hours of work building a rod from a poor quality blank, and by that I mean both casting performance and built quality of the blank.
After testing this rod I found out that it throws some amazing razor sharp loops and it's tremendously precise. These Dan Craft FTL's (Fast Taper Light) are known for their quick action and ability to feel the load both at short or long range. With a very short casting stroke and just a few feets of line thing is smoooth. I was able to lay out line and make precise presentations very comfortable from fifteen feet and up to seventy and eighty feet. Really impressive. Despite the fact that it's a six piece, this rod amazed me with its power and how smoothly it handled a five weight Rio Gold line. I think it's pretty neat that it can break in three or two pieces when needed. Could make a perfect rod for the traveling fly fisherman or for everyday use. It has a solid tip for pushing indicator rigs in the wind, can mend line easily at distance and can cast large dry flies or heavy streamers. The Dan Craft blanks probably represented the best "bang for the buck" and their performance is many times better than some other higher price brands. I have one more blank in stock so jump in to have it built. Thanks for looking!

Blank: Dan Craft FTL
Reel seat: Lemke black anodized aluminum&spalted myrtle wood insert
Guides: Classic blued stripping guide&titanium carbide low profile snake guides
Winding check: Lemke black anodized aluminum
Thread: Gudebrod royal blue
Handle: Half wells "spotted" cork - flor quality
Tube&sock: Landmark aluminum&hand sewn rod sock





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Slovenia. The land of living water. Part II.

Fly fishing gains new dimensions when fishing the cold, cristal clear and fast flowing emerald rivers of the Julian Alps in Slovenia. As an alpine country, Slovenia is well know for the diversity of waters and world class fly fishing is has to offer. People come from all over the world to fish for the endemic species found here.
Slovenia's rivers draining the Adriatic basin are home of the largest stream growing trout in the world, the marble trout, also known as the Soča trout (Salmo trutta marmoratus) and the Soča grayling (Thymallus thymallus adriaticus). These are some of the most pristine rivers I've seen and most technical trout and grayling waters I've fished. It can be a challenging fishery, but most certainly it can offer you a one of a kind fly fishing experience.

My second visit to the slovenian fly fishing paradise was an epic one.

If you've never been to Slovenia make sure you book a plane ticket or get a map, jump in the car and get ready for a road trip. This is what me and a couple of good friends of mine did at the beggining of this month.
With about about 1300 km separating us from our destination, from Brasov (Romania) to Tolmin (Slovenia), we hitted the road around midnight attempting to arrive there around evening.
Traveling through Romania by night (best thing to do to avoid heavy traffic) allowed us to cross the romanian-hungarian border early in the morning and follow our rute towards Budapest and then flat traveling throughout all Hungary. This has probably been the most tiring point in our trip. We headed towards Ljubljana, Slovenia. 
After about fifteen hours spent on the road we finally pass Ljubljana, promising ourselves we would visit it next time, and head towards the northvestern Slovenia in the Julian Alps. A change from the flat landscape of Hungary to the Julian Alps of Slovenia is refreshing and confirms that we're really close from our destination.

The first contact with the beautiful slovenian cristal clear rivers is at the entrance of Idrijca river valley, crossing through the town of Idrija, located on upper course of the river. Here the river is slow running and would make a perfect dry fly fishing section. Right in the center of the town we saw some nice rainbows and graylings taking dry flies. That was a first moment we said to ourselves that this is what we came for. This part of the river managed by RD Idrija- Idrija Fishing Club and can be fished down to the concrete bridge in Stopnik. From that point and downstream to the confluence with the Soča it's managed by RD Tolmin - Tolmin Fishing Club, where we intended to get licences from and fish the Soča river, probably the most beautiful and most complex alpine river in Europe. In this part of the river Idrijca receives the Trebuscica stream, wich would be great to fish when the water levels are high on the main rivers (Soča and Idrijca). Unlike on my first visit here, the Idrijca river was very low and clear. For sure, fishing would have been very difficult under these conditions.
The Idrijca river receives another tributary, the Bača with its tributaries Kneza and Koritnica. The Bača river is a beautiful river that requires special attention due to its numerous meanders, rapids and pools. Hybrid trouts between marble and brown trouts are predominant here and they are truly colorful. The lower stretches hold graylings as well.
We arrive in the town of Most Na Soci and almost reach the final point of our trip. From this point the Idrijca river formed a steep canyon, where I caught my first marble trout two years ago. The canyon it's deep, dangerous and almost impossible to fish. This could be a spot where large marble trouts of Idrijca can be caught. After this point the Idrijca finally joins the mighty river Soča. Just as we planned, before dusk we arrived in the beautiful town of Tolmin, "the centre of the universe". The beautiful gin clear Tolminka river is our welcome here and we head towards our accomodation point on the Soča river valley, just five kilometers from Tolmin. Nothing better than a good rest and a beautiful sunset on the Soča valley after a long trip dreaming of a first day of fishing. The next morning finds us very anxious to get to the Ribiška Družina Tolmin (local fishing club) at the first hour in order to get the licences for five days of fishing. After a warm welcoming we receive our fishing permits along with maps and informations on where to fish, fishing rules. The first day of fishing beggins on the Tolminka river. A beautiful, short length alpine river that flows into the Soča in Tolmin. The most beautiful part on this river and a natural atraction, is the Tolmika korita gorge. The transparent green pools are home of the marble trout and european grayling. Here it's necessarly to have certain climbing skills but on the lower stretches the fishing spots are easily accesible. Rainbows and graylings on nymphs and a first evening caught marble trout on a big cdc dry fly made our welcoming "party" in the first day. This was a great warm up.
However, we wanted to concentrate our attention mostly on fishing larger water, and we knew the Soča was in perfect condition this time of the year. The second day started accordingly.
The next morning we woke up in the beautiful Soča valley surroundings and while admiring the breathtaking panoramic view at the first light, we jumped in our waders immediately.
Before the sun was up, our nymph rigs were allready set and we soon started searching for trout in the deeper lies of the beautiful emerald blue-green water. We just couldn't believe our eyes the paradise we were fishing in. You just have to have that water at your feet to fully understand the feeling. For a second time in my life I knew why this river fascinated anglers from all over the world.
The Soča river runs for 65.2 km from its source in the Trenta valley to the confluence with the stream Vogršček under the Doblar hydroelectric power plant’s dam. The upper part of Soča with tributary Lepenjica and Koritnica to the Čezsoča bridge near the town of Boveč it is managed by the ZZRS - Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia. From the bridge in Čezsoča to the Vogršček stream it is managed by the Tolmin Fishing Club. The gravel bottoms and pools of the Soča are easily accessible. However, the deep, rocky river sections require extra care when wading and solid equipment.
Fishing is possible along most of its reach; only in Korita and the Canyon at Srpenica access is sometimes impossible. We tried fishing in this canyon too and although the fishing was extremely difficult, the scenery  was unforgetable.
Deep pools and swift currents made fishing hard. 
We didn't ran into any monster marble trouts (allthough we saw some huge dark shadows in these pools) because of lack of experience in this kind of water but one of my friends lost a huge grayling.
I managed to catch a few fighty rainbows with my heaviest streamers and sink tip line but still couldn't reach all the fish I saw lying near the bottom.
We continued to explore different parts of the river for the rest of the trip and planned to fish the other rivers on a next visit. We ventured more into the Julian Alps and the scenery was simply amazing.
The breathtaking Soča was such a fascinating river to us with endless fishing possibilies that we barely had time to rest. The next days were something hard to be described in words. We had maybe the best fishing of our lifes. The only breaks we took were the extended lunch breaks. As for the rest of the time we fished like there was no tommorow.
 It was a hard time for our waders and this was the only time I felt that I needed an extra pair. Both of my waders started to leak somewhere. It's hard to tell how much abuse they have endured in this trip.
With such short time and this complexity of water we were so into this river that we became instinctively better. From rapids to flat water, canyon sections or deep pools they all felt suddenly easier to approach and the more we fished the more fish we caught.
Sharp colored rainbow trouts, graylings and the occasional marble trout provided us with some very intense fishing moments.
At the end of the day we were basically exhausted.
The diversity of water and places to fish on the Soča continued to amaze us. As our trip was coming to an end, we decided to spend the last moments in the lower streches near Tolmin. 
After shooting some more breathtaking views we concentrated more on fishing wider water. Indicator nymphing and streamer swinging have proved again to be deadly methods.
I managed to catch the biggest grayling of my life (48cm). This thick bodied awesome colored grayling worked my strongest four weight rod to its butt section. The mighty grayling revealed himself only after good minutes of fight.
After the release, another one followed shortly.
And some more rainbows and graylings.

But the slovenian fly fishing adventure comes to an end.
And what an epic end.
A  little bit of insight on the gear we used in this trip:

Fly rods: Sage TCR's 4wt.(handcrafted in shop) and 6wt., both 9' were my guns for fishing indicator rigs, sink tip lines and heavy leaded streamers. My all time favorites and over many other Sage rod desings. 

My buddies used a Sage Z-Axis 9'6" 5wt., Winston Boron IIX 9' 7wt., Dan Craft GXT 9' 5wt. wich are all fantastic all around rods. We also used a Steffen fiberglass in 3/4 wt. rod that was simply sick with rainbows and graylings but since the dry fly activity was pretty low we used graphite rods most of the time. These were all handcrafted here in the shop.

I sometimes felt I needed a longer rod for nymphing, maybe a 10' 5wt. that could handle both nymphs and streamers at the same time, allthough my 4wt. is one hefty rod for its size.

For reels I found, as I expected, that the old click&pawl reels performed beautiful and made fishing so much fun. I never felt the need for a disc drag reel whatsoever. The Hardy's and the Abel "sing" so sweet.

Lines used were Rio Gold, Airflo Tactical Trout for indicator nymphing, Rio sink tips DC type lines used mainly for streamer fishing and also for deeper pools downstream nymphing with big heavily weighted stone fly nymphs.

I also used a special short czeck nymphing furled leader from Hends in fluo green color for high stick nymphing in the fast runs when a sinking line just wasn't the case. This was a very productive method as well.

Flies used were only flies we tied ourselves. A lot of heavily weighted tungsten head nymphs and the slovenian leaded type streamers were the "junk in the trunk" that we used. Heaviest sink tip lines coupled with the leaded furry streamers was the only way get the fish in the deep pools. As for those huge marble trouts that we saw, hopefully luck will be on our side next time.

Waders and boots: Simms and Orvis make the toughest and most durable waders. IMO Simms wading boots quality cannot be beat by any other company. The tough terrain we experienced here had a lot to say.

A special THANK YOU to the girls at RD Tolmin - Tolmin Fishing Club for providing us with the very best info, river maps, etc. And another special one for the gifts (club's t-shirts, caps and handmade wooden fly boxes). We're hoping that their goal to increase pure marble trout and adriatic grayling populations in the rivers they succesfully manage will be achieved in the closest future!

For me and my friends this trip was like a dream come true! We will surely return here every year!