31 JULY 2011 NEWSLETTER
FROM NEW SOUTH WALES AUSTRALIA
Andrew McKenzie, currently President of The New South Wales Rod Fishers Society, Australia’s oldest trout fishing club. Andrew has been exchanging thoughts with Ed Herbst and me just recently and here are two extracts:
Two weeks to the end of the season and we got a break in the weather, all my other trips got rained out – badly! Dorrigo is about 6 hours drive North of Sydney. This season was the wettest year since the early ‘70s. These photos are from a small stream called Allens Water. It joins with Coutts Water to form the Nymbodia River, a much larger river that flows to the coast.
Below is our camp site at Grassy Lake in the highlands of Tasmania. We did this trip in early 2010. This is the northern section of the Western Lakes, accessed from Launceston through Cressy. Beautiful country – and the chance of some very big fish. I saw one at least 7lb on this trip, but 10lb plus is not uncommon in the small lakes at the beginning of a chain. Weather can be very unfriendly up here so you need to be well prepared. It snows in November/December which is the middle of Summer. Most of your fishing is sight fishing, or fishing to rising trout, it’s pretty much all lakes but there are hundreds of them.
FROM EDWARD BARDER ROD COMPANY
After Ed Herbst posted his article on the return of the classic CC de France bamboo fly rod,
I had discussions with a few local makers and devotees this past week and the name of a UK-based maker, Edward Barder came up in a note from my friend Clem Booth in London. He commented that these new CC de France rods looked masterpieces for sure, and that along with Edward Barder, Tom Moran stands out as a truly great craftsman. He added Barder’s rods are not only lovely, but also functional in the sense of being very hard wearing. His oldest Barder is has now done 7 years service and still looks like new. So I asked Mr Barder himself for a little more information on his rods and this is what he sent to me:
The Edward Barder 8' 4 weight
We build our rods to our own compound taper designs, which are the result of a lifetime of fly fishing and twenty five years of rod building -twenty one years as the E Barder Rod Co. Our reputation is built on the quality of our rods and their performance.
Typically, our rods have an upper third (the top third of a 2-piece or the whole tip of a 3-piece) that is fine enough:-
a. To dampen casting-related vibrations (which can cause shock waves to travel along the line, leading to trailing loops & tangles),
b. To load quickly as the casting stroke begins, to facilitate tight, accurate casting loops, and to protect fine tippets.
They are not so fine that they are weak. We make practical rods for contemporary fly fishing.
The middle third of our rods is progressively tapered, so that our typical rod actions have tips that flex smoothly into a strong supportive middle section that does not collapse when making longer casts or when playing heavier fish.
The butts are stiff enough to support the middle and tip and to keep the rods crisp, positive and lively, without being so stiff that they are rigid and unyielding. The pronounced swelled butt stops the rod's action just above the hand, which further promotes a very positive and accurate casting stroke.
The weight varies a little bit from rod to rod, but the last 8'6" 3-piece #4-weight I sent out weighed about 5 ounces (142 grams I think), which is actually quite reasonable for such a rod. To make it lighter would require the use of alloy reel seat fittings (which are fine but not as durable as nickel silver), hollow building and the abandonment of the swelled butt. I am not currently convinced that the small amount of weight saved would be of much benefit, and it would come at the expense of durability.
The average wait from placing an order to the completion of a rod is eighteen to twenty four months at present.
All these Barder rod images are the copyright of Andrew Perris, a professional photographer and you can see it! http://www.andrewperris.co.uk/
The Edward Barder Rod Co
TELEPHONE/FAX +44(0) 1635 552916
Comment from Steve Boshoff on Edward Barder (and Tom Moran) bamboo rods
I have seen a Barder … they are indeed very beautiful.
Also, they are consistent with the European desire for “luxury” finishes, including exposed guides and ferrules (through the use of clear wraps). I think our drive is somewhat different … less flash and duller finishes, even if the fine workmanship in finishing guides and ferrules is hidden in the process.
Nothing detracts, though, from Barber being one of the modern master craftsmen.
ON FLY LINES FOR BAMBOO RODS
I recently received a Cortland 444 Sylk fly line from Farlow’s in London and straight away attached it to a spare CFO spool that Ed Herbst had given me. It cast like a dream on both my 3-4 weight bamboo rods.
Some comments on fly lines for bamboo, first from Steve Dugmore:
There are some interesting discussions here on lines.
If you do a ‘find’ on the page you can locate the comments about Cortland 444 Sylk line versus other plastic lines etc. I’d love to try a Sylk line. I would guess from various other commentaries I have heard that silk would probably still be the most popular choice between the two for those who have tried both.
I must say that I love the Phoenix 4 wt silk line I have. The lack of stretch coupled with the suppleness, the thin diameter and the relatively hard (as opposed to sticky) ride through the guides makes for a great line. The only downside is perhaps the need to hang the line out and mucillin it, but these are minor issues really.
From Tom Lewin
I’ve experimented with heaps of lines and for me two work really well on cane – the old Cortland peach lines (now available from a crowd called Hook and Hackle overseas.
They’re now a dull olive colour. The other line I really like (have put it on all my reels) is the Scientific Anglers Supra line. I think it’s the old Ultra line. It’s supple and wonderfully suited to the mellow action of bamboo.
From Peter Brigg
I have the Cortland Sylk 3wt DT line and must say that I do like it. However, the more I read and hear favorable comment about the genuine silk lines, I'm tempted to sell some of my wife's shoes and handbags (I don't think she would notice a few had disappeared) and get one.
From Clem Booth
I occasionally use a Phoenix silk line, but to be honest, prefer the Cortland’s and Rio's lines.
NEWS FROM JAPAN
David Kleyn writes,
When I arrived in Japan some years ago I had very little idea of what to expect regarding fly fishing, the waters, fish species etc. But I soon realized that Japan has some fantastic waters! Some of the mountain streams are extremely beautiful. But Japan is very mountainous, it gets a lot of rain, and the vegetation is very thick. I wasted no time in getting kitted out (all my fishing stuff was still in SA) and bought a 7.5 foot Sage 2 wt. with a matching Abel. But I soon realized that the upper reaches of the streams were very bushy and that casting was going to be very difficult – especially a typical fly-fishing backcast. I then saw Japanese magazine articles of local anglers using a rod with no reel and with the line simply connected to the end of the rod – Tenkara fishing. It made perfect sense and was the obvious answer given the environment. They also use the same principle when fishing for freshwater smelt (ayu), but here the rod is much longer (over 4 meters) and the technique is quite different. The ayu also live in the more mature stages of the river and not in the early (and very cramped) stages where the trout and char live. These salmonidae are typically very pretty, but quite small by SA standards.
But I never really got into fly fishing in Japan. I guess because the Japanese yen was (is) strong and I was very fortunate in that I was able to go fishing in some of the very best waters in the world (Canada – BC, the Yukon, New Foundland - Alaska, Chile, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Christmas Island, etc.). But I am still very interested in fly fishing for certain species in Japan - the native carp in the clear mountain rivers in early summer for one.
The first image above, Misatokan Main Waterfall, is a beautiful waterfall that is the "stream centerpiece" of a lovely Japanese inn that I am particularly fond of. The nature of the stream can be seen above the waterfall. As you can see, it is very tight, but with plenty of small pockets.
The second image is of a fantastic stretch of water (both up and downstream) that is unusual in its breadth for a Japanese (main island) highland stream. I have sworn to return to fish this piece of water - the only problem is that it is in a national park. But it will give you a good idea of how tight the banks are. More typically a stream in Japan will resemble the right hand side piece of water on the right of the image - plus there will normally be 2 mountains to back the bush up!
PADDY STARLING’S LATEST WORK AND ONE OF MY OWN
Paddy sent me images of two paintings he has recently done on commission. You be the judge, but love his work.
I am experimenting with rising trout, trying to bring in a sense of life but not too much detail, trying to lift the all too common profile of a fish into something more expressive. It’s not easy. Drawing a trout anatomically is a cake walk, but giving it life and movement is another. This painting is for a friend in Europe.