Thursday, October 25, 2012

DIY Streamer Fly Box (Boat Box)

Keeping your flies organized can be a tricky business, especially if you like to fish multiple places, ways, and times of year.  Even those who stick to one way of fishing can't help but get a bit fly-cluttered at times.  It certainly doesn't help that I lack good fly boxes.  Don't get me wrong, I have a bunch of little fly containers, but these are those clear plastic ones.  You know, the kind that nice fly shops give you when you purchase flies.  I got mine from a buddy a while back and they have been my main method since, that is until now.

Not long ago a friend of mine mentioned he had put together his own streamer fly box.  The idea has been on my mind for quite some time, considering I carry most of my flies in jumbled little nonwaterproof containers.  With my fly diet mainly consisting of streamers the past few months those little boxes just weren't cutting it.  So when Josh showed me his creation it was enough motivation to finally put something together.  And though it is not the exact same as the boat/streamer boxes you can buy in the fly shop, it is pretty darn close.  The only real difference is the foam used, for which I am still trying to find a cheap source.

The best part of all... the whole project only cost $11.00 as compared to the 40 and 50 dollar boxes you buy elsewhere.  I'm not knocking those boxes.  I would own one in a heartbeat, but a poor family guy in college has to make what he has work. (If only you could see my cracked flylines!)

Materials Needed:
-Plastic Container: I originally purchased a 10$ clear box at a craft store (which, oddly enough, was the exact same container you see used for most baby boat fly boxes).

First container looked just like this, without the logo of course, and was clear.
I wasn't a big fan of the latches, so I took it back and got a plastic hand gun case for $7.99 at Sportsman's Warehouse that had easier latches.


-6MM Craft Foam:  Two 9x12 sheets.  They cost a bit over $1.00 each and I chose white.  If you have access to the more supple self healing foam you see in fly boxes, it would probably work better.

-Two Sided Tape:  I already had this on hand, but it may cost you a couple extra bucks if you don't have any.  You can also use glue (spray adhesive or super glue), but I wanted to make it easier to replace the foam at a later date.

-Tools: (scissors, razor blade, pencil/marker, ruler.)


The How To:

Start by removing the foam inserts (if you have a gun case).  Take your 6MM foam sheet and draw an outline of the box so it can be cut to size. 


One of the conveniences that comes with using a handgun case is that a foam outline is already provided. 


After drawing a rough outline, make your first cut with a pair of scissors, or razor-blade if you prefer.  Then place the foam piece into the box to ensure a proper fit.  Trim any excess and refit if necessary.



Once you have a proper fit, you can use this piece as a template.  Use it to draw and outline on your other sheet of foam and then trim it to fit the other side.

Because craft foam is not self-healing or as supple as the foam used in retail fly boxes, it is best to create slits in the foam to hold the flies.  This prevents the foam from being torn up quickly and holds the flies quite well.  Being a bit OCD, I used a pencil and ruler to map out where the slits would be. 



Once you know where you want your lines, score the foam with the razor blade.  Make sure you have something behind the foam that won't be damaged by the blade.  You can cut deep, but not all the way through the foam, or you can slice it all the way through.  I decided to cut mine clear through, however, if you do this you need to secure the foam together on the back (most tapes will do this).   I used the two sided tape on the back of the foam and taped perpendicular to the cuts while holding the foam snugly together.  If you prefer, cut shallow first, put a fly into it and see how you like it, then adjust accordingly.


Next, line the empty plastic container with two sided tape (or glue if you wish).  I think the larger "packing-tape sized" two sided tape would work better, but we had a smaller roll on hand.   If your plastic box has grooves of some kind, you can fill them in with something, but I didn't worry about it.


Once you have lined your case, insert your foam sheet and you are done!  Stupidly simple, and the only difference from a retail box is the type of foam used!



Here is the finished product full of goodies.  Now all I need is to make another.  I'm already running out of room!



If you have any suggestions, comments, or ideas of what can be tweaked or added please let me know.

Alternate Foam Option Here. Or Here.

If you found this helpful head on over to our Facebook Page and give it a "Like"!  (You can also hit the "Like" button on the top of the sidebar.)


Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Good Fishing For A Resaon

There are hidden nuggets of fly fishing gold scattered all over the world.  What keeps them from being pillaged and plundered?  In a word, work.

Not all fishermen are the same.  (Insert "DUH" here.)  Like anything else in life, people are all over the spectrum.  Most are content to access the easy and convenient, while another smaller group are the complete opposite.  They are those who search hard and relentlessly.  They are not afraid of fishless experiences and mistakes.  These few are the gold-diggers.  The kind that would make Kanye proud.  And the source of their wealth... it's work.  The difficult access, the uncomfortable situations, the dangerous moments, these are all things many fishermen avoid.  I see no curse, but a blessing.  In a world where information is ridiculously accessible, less and less "gold" is hidden.  The only thing that keeps special fishing sites safe is that it requires a lot of effort to get to them and back.

Be warned, if you put forth the effort to find spectacular fly fishing, you too can become hooked.  Memories, ideas, and visions of untapped gold do not leave the mind easily.

So when Brent extended the invite to chuck a fly at monstrous moody macks and brooding behemoth browns, the idea was too much to pass up.  Sure it was supposed to be a long hike, and the weather called for rain, wind and snow, but has that stopped us before?  We looked at the situation and thought the fishing would be all the better for it.  For the potential grizzly problem we decided that we would yell at them, and if that didn't work we could pull a Hank Patterson.  Oh, and we had pepper-spray and bear-bells if Hank's advice didn't work either.

Fog and rain accompanied most of the drive there.  We geared up and hit the trail.  It was here that I learned that neoprenes are not meant for hiking.  In fact, unless you want some resistance training on top of a long hike, I would suggest you opt for the breathable waders.  Chafing, a little out of breath, and dang sweaty we reached the water.  The first site we beheld was this amazing full rainbow.


We quickly set to work prospecting for the unseen lake trout.  When we located the schools holding in shallow water they were pretty skittish.  The large streamers we had prepared for large aggressive fish were simply spooking them.  Shane was the first to pick one up on a small streamer he had tied.


After a relatively fruitless hour, and only a few half-hearted chases to show for it, we accepted the situation and switched to egg patterns.  It was the trick and we managed to pick up a handful more.  We lost a couple decent ones, but nothing worth bragging about.  After we each set into a mack, and had spooked up the school enough to shut them down, we decided to go in search of some browns.




 It took a little while to figure out how to entice them to bite.  Initially they showed no interest in what we were throwing.  Black streamers, eggs, and nymphs were all being ignored.  Finally I decided to throw on a Magic Dragon (large sculpin pattern) and had an immediate take.  Three missed fish later I headed down river to catch up to Brent and Shane.  Brent had just lost a very large fish on the jump, rats!  We worked the river down and then back up with intermittent success. 


 



Sweet underwater shot by Brent.  He certainly has a knack for them!


Another sweet shot by Brent.


We were headed out just as the sun was approaching the tree covered hillside.  The hike back out was grueling.  It seemed to go on forever!  By the end of the hike the temps had dropped enough to freeze our still tied on flies.  We also had a close encounter... with a log.  We thought it was a bear and we were all ready to spray it, but after shining a light at it we all sighed in relief.  The large black silhouette in the path honestly had looked like it was moving. 


It was beautiful country, and though I can't recall ever being that exhausted in my life before, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  A 14 mile round trip hike is a lot to do on two hours of sleep.  Maybe next time I will have learned my lesson and will get everything ready sooner!

Brent has a great write up on the trip also.  He's a great guy and remarkably patient with my rambling while fishing.  I imagine Shane will have a post up soon too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Quick One While Waiting

I was asked to give my brother-in-law a ride back to Idaho Falls after school on Monday. There was an hour and a half gap between classes and the time he would be ready to go.  Shane and I made a quick trip and kept it relatively local.  The "Magic Dragon" did the trick. 

Fangs (look close)


Color delight





Shane, Brent, and I made it up to the Lewis River Channel to chase some lake trout and migrating browns.  Brent got some sweet shots.  Post is in the works.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fur Feather Foolery

"Whenever, therefore, people are deceived and form opinions wide of the truth, it is clear that the error has slid into their minds through the medium of certain resemblances to that truth."
-Socrates 

Both fish and people alike are prone to chase after imitations.  I wish I could say fish do so more than people, but that is probably not true.  I wonder what fish would tell each other concerning such things if they could speak.  Just imagine it.  One fish says to his friend, "you mean you actually thought that hairy thing was a minnow!?  What a doofus."  Putting aside the theological discussion that could be had concerning people, I have to admit that I am grateful fish can be duped.  What is even more gratifying is knowing that the device for deception can be a homegrown, do-it-yourself affair.  "Matching the hatch" is the common phrase, but "matching the meat" could find its place as well.

There is something to tricking a fish into eating fur, feathers, thread, and steel.  It appeals to the sleeping caveman hunter in all of us.  Sitting at the vise, grabbing various materials, building a new fly as it is tied can be quite fun.  Then fishing it, feeling how it casts, and observing its movements in the water.  The biggest test of all... does it catch fish.  After fishing the pattern and getting a feel for it, you take the ideas back to the vise and tweak a bit here and there.  Does it need more weight, a bead here or there, perhaps less weight, a different color added or taken away, a shorter tail, or a multitude of other options.  Then you repeat the process.  It is much like the caveman hunter going through a transition from stick spears to stone arrowheads, and finding that sharp stones make for bigger game.  The entire process is enjoyable and adds a whole other creative dimension to fishing.

Foolery Goodies.

It has been a fortunate fall thus far.  The attempts at fish foolery have paid off greatly.  This beautiful specimen took the Magic Dragon sculpin pattern.  I was in shock at how girthy this guy was.  It would take almost four hands to reach around him.


I am becoming more and more convinced that there are large fish in most waters.  The trick is figuring out location and feeding patterns.  Our night fishing escapades really brought this idea home.  A run in an easily accessible area, that is fished with heavy pressure day after day can still put out massive fish.  Shane proved that point once again with THIS FISH from this past weekend.  Big fish have to eat too, we fishermen just have to figure out the wheres and hows.

Big streamer.  Big fish.


Chubby lips.

Blue spot.


This has to be the biggest whitie I have ever seen. 

This one is for Gus.  Recognize the fly?

The SF is already at lower flows than last years winter flows.  Could get even lower.  Should make for some accessible wader fishing.

This week we'll be up north chasing macks and some more browns with gaudy streamers.  Let's see how the lakers take to our deceitful ways.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Proud Papa

In our family we set an age limit for our kids to begin fly fishing.  Maybe you think it is unnecessary, but you can't deny there is something frightening about a little child flipping a line back and forth in the air with a hook on it.  I suppose it is a quick and free way to get a piercing though. 

We told Will about a year ago that he needed to be five years old before he could fly fish by himself.  As his September birthday drew nearer, he talked more and more about how excited he was to fly fish.  And about two weeks before his birthday he started telling us that what he wanted more than anything for his birthday was a fly rod.  His birthday finally came and he received a brand new fly rod.  In his excitement he started flipping it everywhere!

A few days later I made it back from school in time to take him to the local kids pond.  Unfortunately that place gets picked over by wrinkly (and sometimes creepy) old guys which have the "I must keep everything I catch" mentality.  There were only a handful of fish and it was difficult for Will to cast out to where they were.  He did have one take his fly, but he didn't see it and wasn't able to set the hook in time.  He was able to reel in a few on my rod, but still wanted to catch a fish on "his" rod.  While trying to break in the new rod for the first time I also managed to literally break the rod.  The tip snapped off when we were undoing a snag.  Cheap Wally World rod.  We had an Idaho Falls symphony kids activity to be to so we called it after a couple hours.

Will was anxious to catch a fish all by himself and with his rod (which I took back to the store and got a bit tougher model) so Bita and I made plans for a family trip out to Birch Creek.  It was late before we actually made it on the road and cold and windy outside too.  When we arrived we caught a beautiful brookie, but there weren't many fish, so we moved.  At our second location I gave Will his rod and pointed him to a spot to go start casting.  A minute later I was all geared up and was walking toward Will who was picking up a fish he had just caught!  He casted to, hooked, and landed a little pretty brookie all by himself!  I was so proud and he was pretty stoked!


Brothers bringing in a fish.  Isaac on the pole, Will on the net.
Isaac doing his version of a smile.
 After a while the sun was going down and it was getting pretty cold.  I had to take Isaac back to the van to hang out with Bita and baby Elijah already, but Will was determined to keep going.  He managed to hook and land three fish all by himself.  He lost four others.  He is a natural and casts great, at least for a five year old.  I love fishing with this kid.  He is such a joy to hang out with and it is fun to see his developing love for the outdoors.  Next year this kid will be old enough to go with me on even more fly fishing adventures.  Next we just need to get him some waders!



Here is a shot of the first brookie we caught.  They are beautiful this time of year.  We landed one other brookie this pretty but it got away before we could get the camera out.



On another note,  I was able to make another night trip.  Unfortunately the water level dropped the day before and a cold front moved in.  Things didn't bode well for our planned trip.  Brent was able to make it out with Shane and I this time.  It was good company, but slower fishing than last time.  I'll post up some pictures for the trip, but Brent and Shane both wrote up good reports already, have a look.

Tragedy number two for Brent.  Big fish break hooks.  It had to have been big.

The stinger fly worked.

Beauty caught by Brent.

Sporting some jaw bling.

Shane doing his thing with the big fish.



Another pretty one from the night.


Changing topic one last time, I am planning a move from Many A Fish.  The new place currently looks like it will be called "Living Fly Legacy."  The reason for the move, well... the new name has much more to do with my ideology of fishing.  There is much more to it than fish and the catching of them.  Let me know what you think of the new proposed name.  If the change happens I will post a redirect from this blog.  Thanks for stopping by and following along.