Ro Camino – the newest drift boat from the boys in BZN

RO Drift boats is getting closer to unveiling their newest hull design – the RO Camino.   The plug has been delivered to their Bozeman boat shop as they gear up for the 2013 fishing season.  Robert, Dane, John and the boys are working hard getting new boats out the door and designing the layout of the Camino.

Earlier this week, I got the full run through on interior options for all of RO’s hull designs:

1. Full walk around – no more stumblin’ over the rowers’ bench or rear leg lock.

2. Dry box or pedestal seats.  YETI cooler front seat option as well.

3. Front and rear leg locks (newly designed walk around rear single leg lock to eliminate the “dancing client”)

4. Nomad storage system- rod lockers, sponson storage.  Nomad video….click here!

5. Nomad Light – a simpler version of the Nomad with off the floor storage for spare oar and life jackets.

6. Grab & Go rod storage – this is new for RO and a nice change for stowing fly rods.  No more skewering.

7. Refuse can – for tippet, old useless flies, beer cans, chew spit,  litter or maybe a small ice chest for the gunnel bar.

8.  New rubber coated floor for grip that won’t shred fly lines.

9. Raised floor around rower’s seat to keep gear dry.

With any luck, the boat will be finished upon my return from Argentina in mid-April.   There is one other fella who is getting a Camino as well and I know he is already tapping his toe. Build the boat Bud!


More gear

The Patagonia Stormfront Pack, the Freewheeler Max and some clothing items made their way through our back door a few days ago.   It’s always fun to get some new gear for a big trip.    Tying materials are also showing up for big streamers, but I made the mistake of leaving out a brand new badger hackle and Stella plucked most of the feathers from the skin……at least she didn’t chew’em up.

Molly made a good point the other evening with regards to bird dogs and hackles, “Just how is a hunting dog supposed to differentiate between birds and bird feathers?”

Good question.

My answer was, “cause they are, dammit”.

I think Stella knows that I am leaving……with out her and is secretly pissed off.

Midge Clusters

The Griffith’s Gnat has been the most productive midge cluster ever invented.  I use it in sizes #12-20 on rivers throughout the West.  George Griffith tied this simple pattern, it’s durable and productive which are characteristics of all quality fly patterns.  Peacock and grizzly hackle….simple shit….thanks George for inventing this fly.

So, last Spring, before a trip to the Big Horn with several buddies, I sat down at the bench to tie these up.  After cranking out a half dozen, I looked at the fly and a thought occurred to me –  why not add a wing, for visibility?  Lots of folks have done this in the past using CDC or tying this fly with a post and hackle, but I never really thought it looked quite right.  Since I had just finished up tying a couple dozen BWO Comparaduns, the idea of using a comparadun wing (for you died in the woollies – a haystack wing) sounded cool.  So, I tried it and also added a sparkle tail as well…why not….right?  I also clipped the fly, top and bottom, to give it a cleaner look – much like the buzzball.  On over cast days, I use a black comparadun wing as this shows up nicely in silver water.

We fished this pattern on the Big Horn with a ton of success, but since the trout were taking damn near everything we floated to them, the test was not really a test.  The entire season went by and finally a chance to test out this pattern arrived while guiding on the Missouri River in late October.   Tim (pictured above) had never thrown a dry fly.  He wanted to up his game and was tired of chasing the bobber from ramp to ramp.  We launched at Wolf Creek bridge and floated down a short ways.  I dropped the hook and started in on the instruction – measuring distance, reach cast, slack line, feeding line and of course the concept of first drift/best drift as the best course of action for him to take.  Tim, being the scientist that he is, caught on fast.  Rising trout on the Missouri can be some of the most picky sonsabitches anywhere, especially by late Fall.  We set up fishing to our first pod of the day, above the Railroad Trussles, and had seven or eight nice fish taking midges and spent BWOs.   With just one fly and some 5x, Tim went to work and managed to catch his first trout on dry fly in about two minutes.  His first fish moved a foot and half off it’s line to eat the fly.  He hooked and jumped a few more, then we moved on.  Well done Tim.  We spent the rest of day fishing streamers in between pods of trout.  The only fly we used for the pods, was my new twist on George Griffith’s Gnat.   Just after Christmas, I sent this pattern, and several others to Montana Fly Company for submission.  With any luck, they will add this my collection of patterns at MFC.

My twist on the Griffith’s Gnat – the Gnat King Cripple…..this was named after several beers while floating the Big Horn.

Patagonia’s Down Sweater Full-Zip Hoody

Ever since I was a wee youngster, down garments have been a staple of my wardrobe.  My down fascination started out with an old school, western style down vest, worn around the age six or seven, in the back yard bagging leaves.  At some point, while hunting waterfowl at Cow’s Head Slough with my Dad and Uncles, a down jacket hung on a sixteen penny nail in our duck blind.  It was tan, probably made back in 1970’s and warm as pie.  On really cold days, this jacket was my blanket, as I would wrap up in it and fall dead asleep on a cot in the back of blind.  I acquired another vintage down jacket (that my folks bought on a trip to San Fransisco in 1969) in my college days.  Molly has tried to take this to Second Wind on several occasions, but I narrowly averted disaster and rescued it.  And then, there is that zero degree 1970’s Sierra Designs down mummy bag, belonging to my Dad, which still has two fee of loft.  If there is one common theme here, besides down feathers, and it’s the fact that down will last a lifetime, if properly taken care of.

The full zip down hoody from Patagonia is one of finest pieces of gear I own.  Why?  Well, read on……

Wearable – yea, this seems like a no-brainer, but some down jackets give the impression of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  The down sweater or down hoody, wear quite well underneath waders and one doesn’t feel restricted at all when rowing or casting.   This jacket was designed for the mountain climber, but the versatility of Patagonia clothing allows it to double or triple for use.  I often wonder if college kids in Bozeman are given this jacket by MSU once they enroll in the four year plan to becoming a better outdoorsman/woman.

The hood – this is my favorite part of jacket.  Hoods, especially down hoods, keep your neck warm and the wind out.  When fishing, spring or fall, I wear the hood up or tight around my neck.  Cold, windy days are even colder when your neckline is exposed.  The draw cord can be cinched up for better visibility when the hood is up –  a great feature for when wearing underneath the SST Jacket.

Packable – when stuffed away, using the interior stretch mesh pocket, this warm layer packs anywhere you want it.  And, weighing in at under a pound (15.2 oz.), you’ll never know it’s even there.   While backpacking into Wyoming’s Alaska Basin, the down hoody was stowed away in my pack all day long, until nightfall.

Suppa, duppa warm – this past fall, while backpacking with Molly throughout the Colorado Plateau, we both carried our Patagonia down jackets.  Morning, evening and from time to time as a pillow, down works like nothing else.  Note: when rowing, this jacket can be too warm, unless of course it’s blowing snow and cold as January in West Yellowstone.   On ski trips in Yellowstone National Park, the down hoody never leaves my pack, it’s my safety net for warmth and I pull it out each time we stop to enjoy an erupting geyser.  On guide trips, this jacket never leaves my drift boat and has been worn by multiple clients on cold days.

The price – okay, this jacket is expensive.  At $250 for the hoody and $200 for the sweater, not everyone can afford it right away…..save your pennies and buy it, as there is no substitute for good gear and good gear is not cheap.  I plan on getting at least ten years out of my hoody (I have two thus far), so that works out to $20-25 per year to stay warm.  The Ironclad Guarantee will help to extend the use of your gear.  My goal is too use a piece of equipment until it falls apart and can’t be fixed, thus reducing my impact on the environment and making the jacket cheaper over time.

BC Steel

A little more Monday morning madness. I have watched this three times already. Another good friend of mine, Justin Spence, (in the red jacket) just got back from a BC steelhead trip. The day they were supposed to fly out for the USA, their plane was delayed because of weather. It took them three extra days to get out of BC…so, like any other addict, they went back to the river. Wow……I want to go.

Freestone flyrods

Some of you were able to fish Freestone flyrods this past season while on guided trips with Big Sky Anglers. A few folks pulled the trigger, others are still on the fence. Currently, I have the 905 and 906 graphite models and there is a slight chance of getting a 907 prior to my trip to Argentina in March – yes, I am headed down south for the first time ever. More on this later.

If you can get your hands on one of these rods, you must cast it.

If you can fish with it, even better.

Once the angler feels the rod load and also plays a fish – he/she will be overcome with pleasure and the money will fall out of your hands. You may actually beg Bernard to take your hard earned dollars, somewhat like a heroin fiend, just so you can feel that sensation again and again.
Watch out, these rods are addictive…..