Barry and Cathy Beck's Blog
Sage has two exciting new rods and reels coming for the 2011 season. The old saying if it works don't change it certainly doesn't ring true at Sage. Jerry Siem, Sage's rod designer, is constantly thinking of ways to make the best better.
The VXP which replaces the VT2 line is the most powerful fast action rod Sage offers at a mid-price point with plenty of high-end features. With ultra high line speed and a slender shaft design, the VXP is exceptionally smooth and responsive. The rods come in Shadetree Green with dark green, silver & black wraps. Fresh and Saltwater modes in line weights 4 through 10. All 4 piece. Price range $495 - $595.
The TXL-F surpasses the TXL series by being the lightest, most responsive rods to date. With ultimate sensitivity, the TXL-F family is reduced in weight from the TXLs by 33% with the use of Micro Ferrule Technology and an exclusive ultra-light guide package. Bronze anodized reel seat with walnut insert. This is your rod for fishing tiny flies with ultra light tippets. 000 through 4 weight. All 4 piece. $625.
While we all know that Sage creates the world's finest fly rods, we are pleased to announce they now have a line of reels designed to match that level of perfection. Using materials and technology like carbon fiber and their unique SCS (sealed carbon system) drag systems anglers now have consistent performance whether fighting a steelhead on the Bulkley with iced up guides or hooking a acrobatic Tarpon in the heat of Belize. The new 4200 series reels
From the small ultra-light delicacy of the Click I to the stand-up work horse performance of the 6000 series, Sage offers the perfect reel for every rod.
With the exception of a few models, most rods and reels are now available. Stop in to your local Sage dealer and take a look.
In our next issue, we'll take a closer look at all the Sage rod families to better understand the niche that each one fills. If you have a favorite rod or rod question, we'd love to hear it.
Maybe it's my age, but a couple of things have become glaringly clear to me after a lot of years of traveling and carrying luggage. The first thing is that I don't want any luggage that isn't a roller bag anymore. Yes, the roller and handle add some weight to the bag but it is so much easier to move your luggage that I will gladly deal with the extra weight. Carrying all that weight on my shoulders doesn't work anymore.
Secondly, for anything longer than a weekend, I want a hard bottom which most roller bags have. The hard bottom protects fragile items, keeps things in place and gives shape to the bag which is important if you want to leave it standing for a second while you find your passport, or if you have to use it as a portable desktop while standing in line trying to take notes while on your cell phone.
Now that we have the right bag, let's talk about packing it. There are certain items that always go in the bottom of the bag: binoculars, fishing reels, fly boxes, shampoo, sunscreen and other liquids, and anything valuable that I can't put in my carry on luggage, anything fragile. So, you might be saying, 'she puts her shampoo with her fly reels, is she crazy?' The most important item next to the luggage that we use are resealable plastic bags. Every liquid, gel and cream is put in a sealed plastic bag. Sometimes double bagged and placed on the bottom of the luggage with socks, buffs, or a fleece vest across the top of the bottom layer for cushioning.
The fly rods go on the bottom of the bag in the cloth sacks, no hard tubes. We stagger the ends so the reel seat of one is against the ferrule ends of the next rod. The bottom of the duffel is sectioned and the rods lay comfortably and safely in these sections. This is also where the reels go in the neoprene cases with handles up. On top goes some soft items as mentioned above, gloves, hats, socks, a fleece vest, flip flops, etc.
One other thing that is especially nice about the hard separate bottom section is that TSA has never inspected it. They riffle through the top of the bag but never the bottom. Maybe this makes the items a little safer I don't know, but I do know that when I open it things are where I put them when I packed.
All my clothes go in the top section. My shirts go in one Eagle Creek Pack It Folder and my skirts or trousers go in another one. I like the 15" size but Barry prefers the 18". These folders keep the items neatly stored and organized. My smaller items I place in a mesh draw string bag. Larger, crushable items like a fleece jacket, rain coat, fleece pants, are stuffed around the edges. My shoes go in the large end zippered pocket.
The one item that stays packed at all times (I have a copy in each piece of luggage that we own) is a laminated copy of the inside pages of our passports. If the passports are stolen, this copy will provide us with identification, numbers, and information necessary to get out of the country. It will still be a big hassle, but the copies will make it somewhat easier - I'm told.
When I'm on a tropical trip and don't have a lot of fleece and my bag is not full, I can easily cinch down the size of the bag by pulling the adjustable straps on the outside of the bag.
In all the traveling that we do, our bags are only rarely over the 50 pound limit. This might happen when we are out for three weeks or more and/or carrying gifts for people at the other end. With careful planning and today's easily washable quick-drying fabrics, we don't have to take a lot of extra clothes. Oh yes, a small 4 oz. bottle of liquid detergent goes in that bottom compartment - in a resealable bag, of course.
Remember when you went back to your film lab and waited for the prints to come back from processing and then waited again for reprints to send to family members and friends? Well, those days are gone, thank goodness. With digital we now preview the images in the camera and delete any that we don't like. The memory card in the camera stores the photos that we later download to our computer. The card is reformatted and ready to be used again and again. We can easily share photos by email or online galleries or choose photos we want to print, and with one or two clicks, print them at home! With easy-to-use software editing programs, we can have our own digital darkroom right in our computer. This software can brighten, straighten, get rid of red eye and crop with minimal effort. And, if we don’t want to print at home, there are online print labs ready to help.
We are frequently asked which to consider, a point-and-shoot or an SLR? This question is almost always followed with how many pixels are needed? A point-and-shoot has a fixed lens. With an SLR (single lens reflex) you have the flexibility to interchange lenses. We use both in our travels. Many point-and-shoot models are the size of a cell phone yet produce stunning images - and shoot video. These cameras are perfect to keep handy in a pocket, purse, fishing vest, or fanny pack It's a perfect camera to use for instantaneous or impromptu shots
If you want to take it to the next level and are serious about landscapes, portraits, wildlife or bird images, then the flexibility of being able to switch back and forth from a wide-angle lens to a longer focal length (80-200mm or more) to pull in your subject becomes very important. When photographing people it's nice to have the option of a longer lens at times so you don't have to get in their face. On the other hand, if it's your grandson's first birthday, you do want to get close. In wildlife photography, you wouldn't want to walk up to a black mane lion - you'd want a longer focal length. So, we have choices.
Our choice in a point-and-shoot camera today is a Nikon COOLPIX S8000. This slim, handsome camera sports a 3-inch high resolution color display which makes previewing easy, is extremely fast for a point-and-shoot (ISO settings of 1600 are possible) and it offers a 10X zoom with VR (vibration reduction) image stabilization which equates to a 28-280 lens. Also included is Nikon D lighting for better exposures and a High Definition movie mode with stereo sound. The S8000 offers an advanced on board flash and a macro setting that allows focusing as close as 1cm or 0.4 inches. All of this and 14.2 mega pixels gives you a incredible point-and-shoot camera.
When it comes to an SLR for the more serious photographer, take a look at the Nikon D90. Add a 18-200 DX Nikor zoom lens with ED glass and Vibration Reduction and you have an affordable combination that you can travel the world with. The D90 offers 12.3 mega pixels (not as many pixels as the S8000 but bigger), high ISO (200-3200), HD Video with live view, Nikon D lighting and advanced scene modes that automatically adjust exposure for superior picture quality. The D90 comes with NikonView NX Software that makes image browsing and organizing easy.
On a pro level the Nikon D300s is the real deal, offering a 12.3 effective megapixel camera that
fires 8 frames per second in a durable magnesium body. The 300s D-movie function includes an external microphone input for clear stereo sound recordings while the large bright view finder is easy to see for previewing. We own three D300s Nikon cameras. It's our go-to camera. It's probably obvious by now that we are loyal Nikon fans and there is good reason. Nikon helps us make great images and they never let us down. You may agree that money can't buy happiness, but it can buy quality. With our Nikon cameras and Sage fly rods, we know the rest is up to us.
If you want to photograph wildlife then you’ll need a longer lens (300 mm or longer) for your SLR. There are a lot of choices in lenses and good glass is on the expensive side. Our 200-400 comes in at about $7,000 and our 80-400 at $1,650. But a lens that is a real sleeper is the Nikon 70-300 VR at $590. This is an extremely sharp lens and although it’s slower than the big glass in the 200-400, with the higher ISO’s on the D90 and the D300s, it will give you magazine quality images. Get all the technical information on these cameras and lenses at http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/index.htm.
On another note, a good, personal, hands-on camera store is getting hard to find and most of the
big box stores are great on price but lack the kind of service we all long for. We have used
Roberts Distributors in Indianapolis for all of our photographic needs for the past seven or
Good pictures generally have three basic ingredients: Good light, good composition, and capturing
the moment. Think about all the times that we have looked at something and thought,
“Wow, that would make a great picture” or “I wish I had a photo of that to show my friends
and family.” We’ll have that treasured moment if we remember to take our camera along on
our next trip and, of course, if we take time to make the shot.
We handle fish almost daily as either instructor, trip host, or fishing photographer. In all of these situations we want to capture the image and at the same time be sure that we are releasing a healthy fish that is not stressed or exhausted. Insuring the survival of the fish always takes priority over the photograph and there have been many times when we quickly released the fish without the photograph.
Sometimes we have to consider our own safety. Toothy fish like barracuda and sharks come to mind and even a small Jack Crevalle can give a nasty wound if handled improperly. Heck, we can get a sore hand by getting poked with the dorsal fin of a harmless panfish! These potentially hazardous situations can result from getting our hands too close to a mouthful of teeth (as in barracuda), or coming in contact with a sharp spine or gill plate (jack or snook), or an actual intended bite (shark). Cathy once grabbed a decaying sockeye salmon for a photo in Alaska and got her fingers inside its mouth of teeth. It took a month of antibiotics to get rid of the infection caused by bacteria in the rotting process. Be careful where you put your hands. Consider using a boca grip on a big fish to safely handle it for a photograph.
This is the system we use when we photograph fish. The longer a fish is out of the water the better the odds are of it not surviving. If the fish is in good shape one of us will compose the photo while the other is holding the fish safely underwater either gently cradling it or using a net. The person in charge of the fish can be getting it into the correct position for the photograph before lifting it when the photographer gives the word. If the head of the fish is gently cradled in one hand while gripping just ahead of the tail with the other hand, you’ll see plenty of the fish in the photograph and have a comfortable hold on it. For big or especially slippery fish a fishing glove or even a sun glove will help grip the tail. Make sure the glove is wet to protect the fish.
Our first photo will be a test shot of the angler holding the fish in the water. Then we'll check the photo for proper composition, lighting, etc. We may need to do this a couple times. When everything looks good, we'll let the angler know we're ready and on a count of three, the fish is lifted out of the water, the angler smiles, and the photographer fires three quick shots and the fish goes back underwater. We may repeat this process a couple times but with each “lift” the fish is only out of the water for about 5 seconds.
We cringe when we see an angler with a fish out of the water flopping around on the side of the river
while he gets his camera out of his pocket, turns it on, checks the program, and finally gets around to trying to hold the fish with one hand and photograph with the other. The only thing worse might be having the fish fall our of your hands in the boat or it landing in the dirt and stones alongside the water from an angler in a standing position. We always try to keep the net close by and the fish close to the water. If he slips away from us unharmed, so be it.
If the images look good in the preview, it’s time to release the fish. We’re still holding the fish with a firm grip just ahead of the tail keeping it in an upright position in the water. If it’s not anxious to go we slowly move it in a figure-eight or circular motion facing into the current making the gills work. Make sure the fish is in clean water where turtle grass, moss, sand, or mud won't foul the gills. If it's a trout, the water should be cold as well as clean. In saltwater, if the fish is exhausted or bleeding there may be predator fish in the area waiting for a chance to get at him. If it starts to turn sideways or goes upside down it’s in trouble, rescue it and repeat the revival process.
Remember, making sure the fish is healthy and not in any danger is the most important factor.
I've been wrestling for weeks now with what to do about the blog. What I've decided is that it should be a place to talk about lots of things - photography, fly fishing, fly casting, fly fishing travel & lodges, flies, and everything that goes along with these subjects. We're trying to figure out how to do this while maintaining some semblance of identity, organization & easy navigation. We may not get it right the first time, but we hope that you'll be patient with us. We want it to be your go-to place for connecting, community, and conversation. We'll do our best and look forward to hearing from you with suggestions, comments, and critiques. Please visit often and comment often. Let us know how to make it better as we go along. Cathy & Barry
Sizes: 6 & 8
Colors: Tan, Black, Olive
Hook: Tiemco 3761
Thread: Tan, Black, Olive
Tail: Tan, Black or Olive Blood Feather overlay 6 strands Krystal Flash in corresponding color.
Rib: Hareline dyed grizzly hen body feathers, available from AA Outfitters,
800-443-8119 or Tan, black or olive.
Legs: Two rubber sili-legs. Root beer, black or olive.
Eyes: Lead eyes painted yellow and black. XS on size 8, small on size 6.
Head: Spiked dubbing figure-eighted around the eyes. Or, dubbing brushes if available.
The idea for Cathy’s Super Bugger was to design a fly that would create more underwater vibration or noise which would help fish locate and find the fly. The combination of a thick web hackle body and sili-legs pushes the water as the fly is retrieved, creating noise and vibration. Having the eyes tied ontop of the hook inverts the fly as it is being retrieved, gives it a more leech-like action in the water, and keeps it from fouling on the bottom.
Super Bugger Tying Steps:
1.Secure the painted eyes at the thorax positon of the hook by figure eighting with your tying thread. This is approximately a quarter of the hook shank back from the eye. Coat the thread windings with super glue and let dry.
2.Take the tying thread back to the rear of the hook shank.
3.Tie in the 6 strands of Krystal Flash. It should be the length of the hook shank.
4.Tie in the marabou tail, same length.
5.Tie in the first of the grizzly hen body feathers. Wind the hackle forward toward the hook eye, but keep it tight. The idea here is to build bulk with hackle. Once you've finished, tie in the next hackle in the same manner. It may take four hackles to complete the hackle body.
6.Tie in the two silli legs by figure eighting them with thread around the hook eye. They should be sticking out from the sides and the length of the leg should be the same on each side.
7.Figure eight the eye with a spiked dubbing to create a head.
8.Whip finish and the fly is done.
Marabou shorts (or blood feathers) work best and in the end are more efficient than buying a plume.
Coat your painted lead eyes with Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails. They will hold up better. (In the cosmetic section of your pharmacy).
Remember to open up your casting loop with any lead-eye flies. This used to be called chuck and duck fishing. Also, with a tight loop the fly could potentially hit the rod blank and break it. If you're a Sage customer, this means your Z-Axis is going to be better than your TCX.
Vary your retrieve speeds and remember to set the hook with your line hand and not the rod tip. If you miss the fish the fly will still be in the game and the fish may take again.
Black works best in off-color water. Tan is the perfect color for any stream or river that has a crayfish population.