Friday, May 16, 2014

NuCanoe Frontier is a fly fisher's dream

Fly fisher Joe Mahler of Fort Myers lands a peacock bass while fishing out of his NuCanoe Frontier 12.
It's not good to make change for no reason.

As the late Ed Pierce once said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Pierce was the managing editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for many years and was not only a mentor, but also a friend, confidante and a great boss.

I'm sure Pierce didn't coin the phrase. However, no one could say it like the mealy-mouth mumbler from Georgia.

I'm making a change. And for a good reason.

After months of deliberation, I've decided to switch my kayak allegiance to NuCanoe. I talked with NuCanoe owner Blake Young a few days ago and ordered three, 12-foot NuCanoe Frontiers.

I began thinking about NuCanoes last year after fishing out of a Frontier owned by fly-fishing buddy Joe Mahler of Fort Myers. I found the boat has everything I need -- and less.

To understand what I mean, you've got to know from where I'm coming. Too many kayaks these days feature every bell and whistle known to man. There's something for almost everyone, but not everything is for everyone. Most kayaks have features that you'll rarely use. Most you probably don't even want.
But those features are great for marketing -- and great for driving up the price.

I like the NuCanoe Frontier for several reasons: 1. It's simple; 2. It's roomy; 3. It's so stable you can stand up and tap dance on the deck.

The only accessories I will add are anchor trolleys on each and a stand-up bar on my personal boat. I might add a some other frills later.

Mahler sold me on NuCanoe. He's a fly-fisher extraordinaire, and knows full well what he wants in a boat. There are many "fishing" kayaks out there that are deplorable fly-fishing boats. Always remember the golden rule: The fly line will tangle on anything it can.

If you're not familiar with the Frontier, please check it out:

The boat is a hybrid kayak. It's a cross between a kayak and a canoe, hence NuCanoe. It's roomy, well-planned and simple.

I like simple the best.

Now here's something that really appealed to me: NuCanoe's customer service. I ordered my new fleet on May 13. They were packaged and shipped out the next day. According to my UPS tracking number, there's scheduled to arrived at my house May 21.


I'll be rigging them out and fishing next week!

First thing you'll notice about the Frontier 12 is that it's beamy. It's 41 inches wide. But that makes it very stable.

The seats are unbelievable. They swivel 360 degrees. That means you can fish 360 degrees, something you can't do in most kayaks.

One of the neat things about the Frontier is that you can turn it into a tandem (two angler) kayak in a matter of minutes. That will come in handy when taking my wife out or when I want to guide fly fishers on night snook trips.

I've been guiding for eight years. I've been doing this full-time for five years. I've owned  many kayaks over the years. I usually get a new fleet every 12 to 18 months.

What I've found in the kayak industry is that there are some great designers, but most don't fish. They rely on their Pro Staffs for sage advice. That's why we get so many boats with countless bells and whistles.

I think I've found a home.

Home is where the heart is. Home is where you're comfortable.

Thank you, NuCanoe.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Early results good for new worm fly that still needs a name


This bass couldn't resist the new worm fly.
How stupid can I be?

Bass anglers have been using plastic worms for age to fool fish. Those multi-colored plastic creations have taken literally tons of bass over the years.

I'm sure plenty of fly anglers have used worm patterns to fool bass.

Not me!

I bought a few worm flies at Bass Pro Shop in Fort Myers and used them a few times. I cast them for 15 minutes or so along Alligator Alley, an area that is home to lots of bass.

But I have yet to get a hit on any of the commercial worms flies.

So, I took matters into my own hands. I designed and tied my own.

Early prototype of the worm fly.
I surfed the Internet for ideas, but I really didn't see any flies I liked. I found some that used rubbery stuff designed to be used as legs on freshwater and saltwater flies. I found worm flies in which the body was fashioned by braiding chenille or other materials. I saw worm flies that employed chamois for the body.

I settled on zonker strips. I knew these rabbit fur strips would be lively in the water and easy to work with.

I had a few bass "stinger" hooks around. I slipped one into my vise and began creating.

The fly is simple, easy to tie and, as I found out, deadly on bass.

Hook: 1/0 Stinger

Thread: black flat-waxed monochord

Tail: 4-5-inch black zonker strip.

Body: Black opalescent Estaz

Head/nose: Black conehead

Weedguard: 50-pound test monofilament

Tying steps
1. Add conehead to hook and place hook in vise
2. Tie in thread just behind hook eye and build up thread to seat conehead.
3. Tie off thread, clip and push cone forward to eye of hook.
4. Reattach thread and wrap entire shank.
5. Tie in mono weed guard at bend.
6. Tie in zonker strip about half inch away from cone.
7. Tie in Estaz and wind forward and whip secure.
8. Bring mono forward and tie it behind cone.
9. Whip finish.

These flies are quick and very easy to tie. I can whip out a dozen in less than an hour.

The beauty of these flies is that they can be tied on any size hook so that you can adjust to different fishing situations.

I also tie them using bead-chain eyes and with no weight at all.

I headed to Webb Lake at the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area south of Punta Gorda to give the new worm flies a try. My plan was to cast them for at least an hour. I want to give them a fair test.

Didn't take long to hook up. First fish was a nice speckled perch (black crappie). I later added 13 bass up to about 1 1/2 pounds.

When I got home, I tied up a few more using the stinger hooks and coneheads. My first prototypes consisted of Aberdeen hooks and bead eyes.

I wanted a larger profile fly that would sink a little quicker.

The next day, I put them to test.

Strangely enough, I started fish a Myakka Minnow and then switched to a No. 10 popping bug. I caught a few fish before switching to the worm.

I hooked a bass on my first cast, but lost it. I landed small bass on my next three casts.

I was impressed.

On the day, I caught and released 15 bass to about 2 pounds.

The fly is pretty easy to cast, although you might need a 7- or 8-weight rod for the task.

I cast it out, let the worm start to sink, then strip it in slowly and somewhat erratically. If you're paying attention and your line is tight, you can often feel the bass take the fly. If not, you'll know you have a fish when your line goes tie.

I know the new fly will produce some big bass.

Now, I've got to name the new creation. Isn't that what fly tyers do? I'm thinking I might call it the Webb Worm because I caught my first fish on it from Webb Lake. I haven't decided on that name, but it's in the lead.

I plan on "field testing" the new fly several more times over the next few weeks.

Maybe be then I'll have caught a trophy bass and come up with a final name?