We are fortunate in Michigan that we have the ability to target so many different fish in varying types of water on the fly. The opportunities here are seemingly endless in regards to the species we can catch and the type of water we can catch them in. In my opinion, the 2 greatest sport fish we have available are Steelhead and Large Brown Trout. I have, over the years, waivered back and forth as to my answer to the question: “if you could only pick one fish to fish for, what would it be?” So, I thought I’d weigh out many of the deciding factors that go into it for me. These attributes are just my opinion on the matters – would love to hear what everyone else has to say about it though!
|It’s reasonable to expect that you would be able to find a brown trout pretty much all 12 months out of the year. Great Lakes steelhead are typically only available from October through April (sometimes May). Edge Brown Trout|
|Photogenic qualities||This is a really tough one for me – giant slabs of buttery goodness are not exactly a dime a dozen, but steelhead go through several unique transformations of coloration and composure once they enter the rivers. In a close call, I’ve got to say Edge Steelhead|
|Watersheds found in||
|Most of the rivers that steelhead can be found in will also hold a population of large brown trout. However, there are several areas that browns are found in that steelhead don’t have access to, including some of the most beautiful/pristine stretches of river this state has to offer. Edge Brown Trout|
|As the saying goes, the tug is the drug when it comes to steelhead. While I will admit that the ‘jolt’ a steelhead on a swung fly is exciting, for me the visual experience of catching a big brown on a pulled streamer or on a dry fly can’t be matched. Watching a buttery brown propel itself towards the boat at Mach5, and open its mouth to inhale a streamer makes me weak in the knees. Edge Brown Trout|
|Tactics they are targeted with||
|Swing and bobber fishing for Steelhead vs. Pulling streamers and dry fly fishing for Browns. I’m an extremely visual person and watching a bobber all day while visual, is far less interactive than pulling a streamer or manipulating your line for a drag free drift of a dry. Edge Brown Trout|
|The Fight||This one isn’t even close. Rarely, in my experience will a brown put up nearly the fight or require the amount of skill to land once hooked that a steelhead requires. Edge Steelhead|
|Uggggghhhhh…..steelhead brings people out of the woodwork, people come from all over the country to experience the great fishery we have. Many people you encounter will be utilizing questionable tactics as well. You’ll often times spend as much time searching for a spot to actually fish than you will fishing. Edge Brown Trout|
|Success Rates||Steelhead, when they are available are for the most part more easily caught than large brown trout. Steelhead success rates are measured in #’s, browns are measured in inches. Being that steelhead are typically easier to encounter – Edge Steelhead|
|Tying the Bugs||
|Steelhead fly tying, whether it is for swinging or nymphing gets very monotonous, it feels like full on production mode. Tying streamers for trout allows me to flex the minimal creativity that I possess, and I enjoy it. Not to mention you only need a few streamers and a few dries and you’re all set. Edge Brown Trout|
It sometimes amazes me at the amounts of money that some individuals spend on fly fishing related gear – specifically the amounts that are spent on fly rods. Some time back the owner of a very well known fly shop in Colorado – one that would benefit greatly by the sale of expensive rods by the way – put together a great piece highlighting why you are probably spending too much on a rod.
The first point in his arguement is:
1. The more expensive rods don’t catch more fish. So don’t think that because you are paying more for a rod, you will catch more.
Most often a more expensive rod WILL NOT make you a better caster – I’d even say that many times it makes you a worse caster! Today’s rods tend to lean more towards ‘tip flex’ instead of moderate actions – many of them on the expensive end of the spectrum. ‘Tip flex’ rods, from my experience are much more difficult for MOST fishermen to cast because they loose the feel of the rod actually loading.
So it maybe that you have an affinity with a characteristic which is not solely about catching fish. Rather there is some other aspect of the sport to which you are attracted.
Also, do you really believe that a fish cares if a bug is presented with an expensive rod? All that fish cares about is if the fly is presented in a way that convinces it to eat or not.
So ask yourself whether you just want to catch fish or satisfy some other urge. If you just want to catch fish, the relevance of the rod should be dictated solely by reference to that metric. Cost should generally be irrelevant.
2. The more expensive rods are not necessarily more expensive to build. The increased price is often just to fund the extensive marketing and propaganda campaigns that rod makers undertake to convince you that their product is better.
The ability to have a “peek behind the curtain” has been an eye opening experience for me! The amount of costs associated with marketing, sponsorships, enormous amounts of overhead is incredibly substantial. Those costs will be transferred to the consumers.
So why are some rods more expensive than others? The answer is simple. Marketing. If you read fishing magazines, you will see particular products given a lot of real estate in the various publications. This is simply a consequence of magazines demanding that manufacturers advertise with them in exchange for positive reviews. Nothing more. If you want proof, look at the number of advertisements devoted to particular brands and then check out the numbers of reviews and advertorials where those brands are mentioned. Then look at the brands which don’t seem to show up in the magazines so much and see how little they advertise. In other words the fishing press simply sells itself for advertising dollars. Nothing more. Then the uninformed public sees the masses of print devoted to particular products and that becomes their choice. These companies do it because they have the budgets to do it and to some extent it works sufficiently to justify the expense.
If you are to take a rod that costs in the $200-$400 range produced by a company that DOES NOT spend a great amount of money on advertising and compare it component by component to a rod in the $600-$800 range produced by a company that DOES spend enormous amounts of money and promoting their product – you’d be surprised! Often times you are actually getting less in the more expensive rod!
I’m not saying that the least expensive rod is as good as all the other rods out there. What I am saying is next time you are in your local fly shop, do a side by side comparison of rods that are in different price brackets – start at the tip section and work your way down.
Are the guides for each rod comparable? Check!
Do they have the same number of stripping guides? Check!
Is the cork quality relatively the same? Check!
Are the reel seats similar – both double locking? Check!
Then cast each rod – try and hit a target at the distance that you will be fishing away from you most often. Does each rod allow you to hit that target?
**Block quotes were pulled from an article on the Frying Pan Anglers website, more info can be found here: http://www.fryingpananglers.com/How-to-choose-a-fly-rod.html
2014 was a great year spent in the outdoors. Here are a few pics wrapping up the year that was:
I am currently engaged in Matt Supinski’s newest book titled Selectivity: The Theory & Method of Fly Fishing for Fussy Trout, Salmon, & Steelhead, and will have a complete view and write up of it soon.
My initial thoughts on the book are this:
- Great content, written in a way that illustrates value of the philosophy
- The photography is really great
- I always head straight to the “fly plates” first – and they don’t disappoint in this book at all. Some really innovative patterns that will be added to my arsenal
- Information is so far very thoroughly developed
In the meantime while I continue to digest the information in the book and construct a feedback and review post – here is a great Q & A that The Trout Zone did with Matt himself.
In complete and total transparency I am associated with the no longer new on the block, but quickly gaining popularity Mystic Fly Rods. I have known Dennis (the mastermind behind the products) since just after the company began producing rods nearly 7 years ago, and have helped him in some capacity or another for most of that time.
As I don’t find myself making any trips to saltwater oriented fishing destinations, I have never really spent much time exploring the capabilities of the Mystic Tremor, as it is designed primarily for that particular function. I did however start fishing a tremor last year while pulling streamers for trout and pike.
The above photo was taken by Rich Felber, see more of his work at Trout on the Fly.
Here are my thoughts:
- First and foremost the Tremor is one of the best looking, aesthetically pleasing rods on the market. The blue blank, with blue thread wraps and violet trim bands are absolutely beautiful.
- Rod is very light in hand and is not fatiguing
- One area that the rod excels in is it’s “lifting power” – the 8wt rod easily lifts 7″ flies and heavy 300 grain sink tips up and out of the water to start a backcast.
- The rod loads exceptionally easy – after the lift up of the bug/line – 1 simple backcast was plenty enough to deliver the fly accurately and at relatively long distances.
- More reviews from around the interwebs: