Friday, November 29, 2013

Guide, Lodge and Trip Review Trout Beck Lodge Taupo Turangi area North Island New Zealand.

An opportunity to go to New Zealand came up, a trip of a life time. The question was where to go and where to get a guide. I decided to use a guide to optimize my time in New Zealand and to not waste what time I had to fish, which would be only 3 days. I was spending enough money travel this far, it was important to make my time the trip of a lifetime. 

I started researching fishing on the North Island vs. South Island. From what I could see the South Island is excellent, but it seemed like you have to cover a lot of area to get into many fish. The more research I did on the North Island, the more interested I was in it. I started to focus in a Taupo area of North Island as I could drive there easily from Auckland Airport or quick flight into Taupo airport. The fish seemed to be big and plentiful and you can fish there year round. 

I was able to find quite guides in the Central North Island area, but I did not find too much of was reviews of guides on forums. I wanted some info I felt like I could trust better than just testimonials on a website. Luckily I had great timing that I saw the review from Dave here at . I PMed Dave afterward was able to get more info from him. 

After conversing with Dave I knew this was the guide I was looking. After a few emails with the Jason of I was set to go. I also liked that Jason and his wife Tracy also have a Lodge so I could stay, eat and fish, it made my decision even easier. I was booked for a package deal of 3 days of fishing and staying 4 nights lodging in one of their self contained rooms with all meals included. 

I flew into Auckland in the morning of the Nov 16th, rented a car and drove 4 hours to the Taupo area to fish some backcountry rivers for big Rainbow and Brown Trout. After a beautiful drive I arrived at the lodge Tracy greeted me and gave me full tour of their place. Their lodge is located right off the Tauranga-Taupo River and Lake Taupo.  Their Lodge is just north a bit of the town of Turangi and South of Taupo. The location was beautiful and quiet. Tracy was a great host and made me feel right at home. A few hours later Jason was back from guiding a couple from Hamilton. He was able to get the newbies into a few fish. I had a wonderful dinner of vension, mussels and oyster wrapped in bacon. I crashed and slept so well that night. I woke up bright and early and had full breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown and toast. After a huge breakfast we were off to fish. Jason had done a bit of recon work on places to take me fishing. After driving 1.5 hours we reached our fishing spot. The water was high from some recent rain

Jason my guide

Every day I fished with Jason, I was able to hook up within a couple of minutes at the first pool we worked.  I realized that big fish takes patience and when they run like a freight train up or downstream. I lost that first fish.  At the next section of the pool I caught my first picture worthy fish

I thought this fish was big, I would learn later bigger fish would come. This river was a bit tough and the water was running high. I was land 8 fish and lost a handful. Here is another fish from the day a bit small but was quite a fighter. These fish are all wild not stocked and they fight like hell, a lot of jumping will run quite a ways.

The whole day I was the only person fishing on the river, it was beautiful and just sounds of my guide yelling at my to set the hook as I would occasionally be staring at the scenery.

That night I had another great meal of Lamb, scallops and a great Pavlova. Jason and I talked at dinner if I would be up for some real backcountry fishing, involving driving 14 miles on a quad. He said the fish here were big and his son had caught a 10 pound Brown there a few weeks ago. The next morning we headed out early drove another 1.5 hour and then it was almost another hour on the quad. The last few miles I don’t think we drove on a trail, we were driving through the forest/bush/jungle. Just when I thought we would never get out of there, we hit a clearing. Jason really knows this area well and has been fishing and hunting the greater Taupo area for over 25 years.

This river was so remote, it was beautiful, we saw a lot of the endangered blue duck on this beautiful river. The river was smaller than what I had fished the day before.  After a few casts I was my first fish of the day.

I think I caught about 12 fish that day all around 4-7 pounds and lost another 3 big fish. Here are a few fish from that day.

Here is one of my biggest fish.

Another good sized fish

This river was full of big fish, Jason told me this section of the river only had big fish in it. I was very impressed he really worked hard to get me into fish, he was disappointed we did not get a 10 pound fish.

Here is a picture of the river.

After a long day of fishing we were back at the lodge over 12 hours after we left. Had a great steak dinner and then I crashed for the night. The final day Jason wanted to know if I wanted to work a new section of water in the backcountry or go to a known river section. I opted for backcountry again.

Once again in the first pool section on my second cast I had a fish. I ended up loosing up, but knew this was another good river. Once again there was no one else fishing the river.

Fishing was good, the bite disappeared a handful of times when the rain came in.

Here is a brown trout to break up all of the rainbow pictures

This was a trip of the lifetime for me. The landscape was so beautiful, the rivers were incredible. I was so impressed with Jason as a guide. He really worked hard to get into fish, he would switch out flies and setups depending on the conditions. He was willing to stay out fishing as long as I wanted. I really liked his wife Tracy she was a great host and an incredible cook. I think fishing with Jason makes me want to work to be a better fly fisherman, I know I could caught more fish with a few better placed casts or getting an extra 10ft on my casts in certain areas. I would highly recommend Jason of TroutBeck fishing if you ever want to fish Taupo area of the North Island. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

James Reid Hollowbuilt Bamboo Single and Spey Rods

I was lucky to hook up with James Reid the well known builder of Spey and Single handed rods. I had only heard of him in regards to his spey rods. I was interested in building a spey rod, so watching James fish with his spey rods was going to be a treat. After some great time fishing, not as much in catching, I came away impressed also by his single handed rods. James hollow builds his spey and single handed rods. Some of the rods are impregnated. Build quality is excellent and they are made to be fished. He mounted his bamboo rods on the hood as we drove between fishing locations.

Here is James web site James M Reid Bamboo Fly Rods

I was able to fish with and cast 3 of his single handers and one spey.

Rod 1

8672 Steelhead Special

8'6 with a 7/8wt 2 piece

This rod is hollowed and felt more like a 8ft 6wt in hand. The rod casted well with a 7wt line, I would call it Med action maybe up to Med Fast. This rod has been heavily used but still was in incredible shape which I like to see in a rod. As it gives me an idea of how the rod will hold up. This was the first spliced rod I had ever used. Previously I had not liked 7wt and above bamboo rods previously the ones I had casted were heavy and either very slow action or were like a heavy broom, that I could only cast for an hour at the most. The Steelhead Special had a great feel to it and the splice handled the few Pink Salmon I hooked up with here is one of them.

The rod dampened well and I could cast it all day without a problem. It had a strong butt section, but would bend into the the butt on longer casts. Casting a spliced rod give me the feeling that the rod is a one piece. Here is a picture

Rod 2

Lightweight Trout 8542

On the second day I was able to try out his new 4wt I believe he is going to be selling soon. It is 8'5 2 piece hollowed and comes in around 3.4 ounces, it felt lighter to me than that. It felt like a feather in the hand, but casted like a rocket without any hauling. I saw James casting it over 70+ feet without much effort. It was raining heavily while we were fishing and nothing was biting. so I was not able to bring in a fish with it. The rod reminded me of holding a Sage LL back in the day, it was hard for me to believe how light it was. It also reminded me of casting the LL, lightweight and excellent action. I don't think I have ever casted a bamboo rod, that made me feel that way. The rod was not a noodle and has a nice butt section with a sensitive tip. It dampened nicely and tracked well. It was an incredible rod. Once again I really loved the feel of the rod. The splice seemed to give it a great feel, it really helps with the weight and casting feel of the rod. Once again the spliced rod casts so differently than a rod with ferrules.

Here is a picture of the rod.

I still dream about that rod, I am hoping he will start to sell it in the near future.

Rod 3

8052 8ft. 5 weight.

 It is his 8052 taper normally it comes in a 2 piece. This rod he brought out was one he took to Italy and was a 4 piece for traveling. I was worried about how it would cast. Once again it had splices on it and after a quick lesson from James I was able to tape the splice. I went with James to the back of his shop and casted it with a WF Rio Gold. It weighed just over 4 ounces, felt more like 3.8 ounces. I could not tell casting that it was 4 pieces. The rod was a cannon, I am not a good caster and was able to get it to right around 70ft and I was not even hauling. The rod dampened well and like the 4wt tracked well. I was not able to fish with it, but if James was able to catch Marble trout on small dry flies it must have a good presentation ability. It felt strong enough to handle good size streamers or weighted nymphs. I left James' shop thinking about his single hander.
Here is the rod.

Finally James allow me to cast one of his spey rods at the end of day 1, I think it was his 12ft Winter Run rod. After quick lesson, I was able to make a few casts that were not terrible, I found the rod easy to handle, which surprised me for how big the rod is and the fact it is bamboo. After casting the rod, it has me excited to build a spey rod and learn how to really cast it.

Here is a picture I took of James casting his Trout Spey that he used earlier on a smaller river looking for fresh Pink Salmon, that rod looked like a lot of fun, but I was busy going after Pinks myself with the 7/8wt rod.

I was blown away by his rods, they are some of the best 4 and 5 weight rods I have ever casted. I cast a lot of 4-5 weight rods for SoCal.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bamboo Rod and custom net action in Mammoth area

I was up in Mammoth for some skiing and was able to get out one afternoon at the C&R section of the Upper Owens. I had a couple of hours on the water, it was a warm day but was windy. I was worried about using a 3 weight rod in the wind, so pulled out a 4 wt reel. The rod performed really well considering the wind. Unfortunately this would be my only day to fish as I separated my shoulder snowboarding on my last run down the hill before I was going to fish at Hot Creek. I lost 2 days of fishing when I could not raise my left arm to fish. I don't think I will be able to fish for another few weeks.

On my first cast I caught this brown on a prince nymph.

I moved around a bit and found a decent pool and caught a handful of rainbows

This one must have jumped 6 times

This was my largest of the day maybe 17 inches. I ended up catching 5 fish all on prince nymphs. They refused to touch any dries I threw their way, or other stuff like zebra midges, birds nest, or emerges. I was surprised how much backbone the rod had, this fish had some weight on it and I was able to bring it in pretty quickly. I also think my new net from Greg at Sierra Nets  might be my lucky charm, I have had great luck fishing ever since I started to use the custom net. The custom net has a great feel to it and build from Claro Burl Walnut with a hoop of Mahogany and Wenge which gives the hoop some nice strength.

The bamboo rod I used was a  Carpenter Bros Hollow built bamboo rods 8ft 2in 3wt, it is hollowbuilt with medium action.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Breaking in Fly Fishing net from Sierra Nets

I had not been out in a while and with some good weather in Socal I wanted to get out. I was off to the Upper Kern River in the Southern Sierras of California only at 340 mile round trip. I also needed to test out my new custom net from Greg at and test out a new Morris Kushner 6wt taper bamboo rod that was new to me. As I attached a new Galvan Torque T-6 to rod I knew I had a problem, a sliding band and a reel of that size do not go well together. I tried to fish with it, but the fell off a few times. So I decided to work on my indicator and Euro nymphing skills. I had my trusty Greys Streamflex 10ft 3wt with me. 

Please excuse the pics, I was using my phone and trying to take the pics quickly to get the fish out of the net and back in the water.

After I entered the town of Kernville, I headed upstream a few miles and found a spot with a couple of pools and lucky for me I saw fish, I had to cast 40ft up and across the stream to get the drift right after playing around with a few nymphs this was my first fish maybe 14in

It had some nice color to it and fought well. I think it took an olive birds nest

After repositioning to another pool, I added a zebra midge as a second fly and I was able to land this bow 

This one was quite a bit fatter and maybe 16in

I moved upstream a bit and found another pool area between submerged rocks and was able to this heavily spotted beauty on a black birds nest size 16.

Good sized fish and had quite a bit of fight to it.

It was an amazing day on the water

My final fish of the day, I only was on the water for 4 hours and brought 6 fish to net and lost a couple more. It was incredible day on the water.

Greg hooked me up with a Claro Walnut Burl handle with Wenge and Mahogany hoop on the net. I own quite a few nets and really love the craftsmanship that Greg puts into the net.  I also was able to get a really cool magnetic net release from him, it is beautiful and the after owning 2 other magnetic releases from places like Dr. Slick, they do not compare to what Sierra-Nets makes

Here are a couple of pics of the net. Great is the best custom fly fishing net builder out there, the net feels so good in the hand and has a great weight balance to it. His work is immaculate and he is an artist. He also does inlays in turquoise and copper which looks amazing.

Greg makes very many cool designs and uses some incredible woods, check out his gallery of nets here

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Rod Carpenter Bros Hollow Built Bamboo fly rod

I saw a post a while ago from someone who had a Carpenter Bros Bamboo Fly Rods from Cris Carpenter. I was in the market for a 3wt 8ft hollow built fly rod and that seems to fit what Cris builds. Cris was great to email with and talk to. I enjoyed hearing about his ideas and philosophy on bamboo building. He builds lightweight rods that are hollowed using West Coast scalloping techniques. He mentored under Curt Elder.

So on to the rod, it is a blond 8'2 2/3 weight hollow built around 3.1 ounces. It is 2 pieces and has 2 tips. Fit and finish is excellent. The taper is a propietary one.

I have fished the rod 4 times now. I used it 2 times on small SoCal creeks. I also used it twice in the Eastern Sierras once in Hot Creek and Owens. I found the rod to be medium action and almost full flexing. It was able to roll cast well on the small creeks. I was able to make some long casts very easily on Eastern Sierra creeks. With the hollow build of the rod, I found it dampened very well. The tip was sensitive and was able to high stick nymph with it also. I casted some 18 baetis dry flies and the bamboo rod lightly presented the flies very well. It also handled 2 heavy nymphs with weight on it, for deep water on the Owens. Cris made the rod with a smaller handle, I thought I would not like it, but actually really like it. This rod is a little different than the rods Cris is currently making, I think he is starting to use micro ferrules to keep the weight down and flames most of his rods.

I am very happy with the rod, as I am building a rod with my neighbor I spent a lot of time looking at the detail on the rod, I like the work Cris has done. He was informative and kept me in the loop during the process. Looking forward to fishing with it more. I am also excited to see some of the new rods Cris is working on, I think he is getting to a point where his rods are down to 2.7 ounces. I think Cris is a builder we will hear more and more from.

I will post some pictures with rod, I lost my waterproof camera hiking out of a creek a few weeks ago. I then dropped my phone taking a picture of the fish with it. So I only took a few scenery pictures.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hollow Built Bamboo Fly Rods

Hollow Built Bamboo Rods can be fluted, which was developed and patented by Lew Stoner. Lew is the L in R.L. Winston started back in the 30's. Hollow fluting is a way to take out the inside core off each strip. Star Hollowing is an example. This technique help to develop rods that were lighter without losing power on the rod or exterior dimension. This allowed to have longer rods for Tournament casting which had weight restrictions.

Here is a picture from Doug Daniel Quad Bamboo Fly Rods Doug Daniel Bamboo Fly Rods

Doug uses a star hollowing method on his quad rods, simply beautiful. He uses the Morgan Hand Mill to help make the magic happen. I am hopeful to get one of his quads in 2013.

The scalloped method of hollow building of bamboo rods was developed by E.C Powell. This method is where you scope up out sections of the inner core while leaving dams at intervals. These dams also provide more surface area for gluing of the strips of bamboo together. Just like the hollow fluting method, scalloping allows to cut down on weight. Normally you are aiming for 20-30% in weight savings.

Here is a picture of scalloping hollow building from Carpenter Bros Bamboo Fly Rods Carpenter Bros Hollow Built Bamboo Fly Rods

This method is what I used on the rod my neighbor and I built a 7ft 4wt Sir D Taper. Plus the rod I just received recently from Cris Carpenter is a hollow built 8ft 2in 2/3 weight. I think the weight is down to a low 3 ounces.

The other advantages bamboo rod makers talk about is greater sensitivity, and dampening. Dampening for a rod is how quickly the rod will return to a resting position. I have casted a few rods of the same taper one hollow built and one that is solid. I have found the hollow built ones did not wiggle as much when casting is finished, I think the dampening difference is small, but is still helpful. I do not think it matters much on shorter rods 7ft and below. But I do think it makes a big difference on 8ft and higher.

There are many great builders who hollow their rods, I have already talked about Carpenter Bros and Doug Daniel. Here are a few of the many other R.L Winston, SweatGrass, Carlin, Thramer, Dennis Stone, Per Brandin and many more I have not mentioned.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Working on first Bamboo fly rod. It is a 7ft Sir D 4wt Fly rod. I am lucky to have a neighbor down the street who has built some bamboo rods. We have flamed the rod. I have blued the hardware. I am currently gluing ferrules.

It is really cool to start with a culm of bamboo, flame it, split it, sand down the nodes. Then on to rough beveling and heat treating. Afterward we worked on final planing, then on to gluing, binding and straightening. After that back to the oven for more heat. Afterward the binding cord is taken off, final sanding. Then it was 4 applications of tung oil. After that the blanks were handed over to me. I have cut them to length and added tip tops.

It is incredible to see the 6 triangles turn into a hexagon bamboo fly rod, very cool.  Will post pictures later.