Monthly Archives: July 2012

Epiphany (Conquering Cheesman)

The day after a 12 mile hike and a 12 hour sleep, the mind has time to rest. A time to reset and rethink. Even more accurately, rethinking how to unthink. To process the past and look to the future. The unplanned, immovable, unpredictable, uncontrollable, unfathomable, resistant, persistent, beautifully chaotic, future. This day I learned, progressed…image

I hiked down the canyon in the rain, keeping light on my toes. Maybe it was the excitement of the challenge, maybe it was the new pants. I really couldn’t tell. There was a fire in my step, fueled by a need. This desire came from somewhere beyond, I needed this. After life had chewed me up, I needed the fish to do the same. image

When I finally arrived, the water showed its ugly head. Gin clear and spooky fish. I saw massive mayflies hatching and rises were few and far between. I cast to seams in riffles, knowing the feeding fish were hanging there. It’s normal this time of year. The first few casts came up with nothing. I had to sift through my boxes. And then…image

I enjoy tying by the river, it gives me a sense of solitude. Knowing what is going on at any given moment and playing to that tune while also playing in tune. I had developed a fly for the Frying Pan River that has now been adapted to Cheesman. You never know the consequences to actions. Predict as you will, but we never find out until the end. I layed there on the old picnic table contemplating the thought, watching clouds dissipate, listening to the sounds of the canyon.image

Something went right that day, something that changed me on the inside. I needed the challenge. In life, I need the challenge. Something my teachers always said as I was growing up, “we aren’t challenging him enough”. So, sometimes I create a challenge. Sometimes, I do something to make life more difficult only for the purpose to overcome. This aspect of my life, fishing, can never be conquered, never perfected. After almost 20 years, I’m still on the water, still fly fishing, still learning.image


On Being Invisible

The trick is to not be seen, to blend in so well that you become overlooked. No hiding, that wouldn’t do the trick. You can’t play the game that way. You play hide and seek on a busy New York street. You see so much of the same thing that one of the most critical things becomes invisible, even when you are searching for it. It’s that one time that you aren’t looking that you find utopia.

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I sit outside of this beaten down hotel thinking. My life remains packed away inside a tiny little car. I realize everything I own fits in it, the bulk of it tying materials and fishing equipment. I look to my future curiously, like a dog with a new squeaky toy. Head twisting left and right putting the intricate pieces of this puzzle together. A mind so clouded by the busy street that the thoughts of real concern become invisible, but it is a nagging thought. Get in the car. Turn the key. Go. Live.

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My head clear, my vision keen, my destination unknown. The true destination would only be marked by a clicking of the emergency break after rolling to a stop. Lo and behold, right there was that place. The invisible utopia. Marked by a glorious trail of trash from the sixties, pull tab beer cans. The mark of something that was, the mark of something forgotten, something invisible.

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Further down the road, my wandering heart lead me to a familiar place. I was wandering, yet drawn to it. Free will and fate intertwined and somehow, I was there, tying flies riverside perfecting something, a new design. I stared down the seams of the river and spotted a peculiar rise. Sideways, a turned head dove beneath the riffle, the Mark of a cutthroat. I knew CRCT’s resided here. But this fish like many others remained from a time before conservation. This fish was invisible. Until now. Until now I had not known that two pure, distinct strains of cutthroat could reside in the same water alongside rainbow trout. This was a treasure.

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It was in that moment, I realized something. I, like the fish, was invisible. Unknown, but known. Walking in plain sight, not looking to be found. An unknown treasure to something, something more than I may know, but until then, I will remain invisible.

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The War

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Upon our distant perspective it all seems normal and calm. The cool breeze flipping leaves of trees and swaying grass to an unknown symphony. The river, the illustrious conductor to the life around and inside of it. However, upon closer inspection, a war tears at its very delicate fabric. A war keeps it alive.

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The walls of an unknown city rise from the ground, holding soldiers within. Millions of warriors who are controlled in numbers by unknown gods as they are forced down a road to the east, to a coast they have seen before. They are carried here on the wind, but today, the wind brings a new army.

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The war drums sound across the horizon, moved forward by chariots with legs of light that scorch the earth beneath their powerful foot falls. Their legs literally ripping the air apart as they move and the size of the army behind them moves so swiftly that they move the air around them.

Peacefully, the walled city rests. Praying for the destruction of the walls. One day they will fall. One by one, line after line they are released upon the road that they once knew so well. The road giving up its treasure as I am the only stranger who walks it. The only stranger that knows its secrets. I stayed for the spoils of war.

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Home Again

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Life is strange sometimes. I have had a change in career and have been contemplating life itself. This usually leads to an emotional and artistic phase of life. One where you grab the reins and nothing happens. Where words and music pour out seemingly from the soul without control. Today is a new day.

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As I lay here the clouds build around me. I see them, dragons that control the fire below. Beneath their wings you can feel their dispersion of air, the wind, the power. Some bearing two heads, some where they shouldn’t be at all. Lost among the crowd wrapped around pillars of the air.

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Unknowingly, a world below them is frantically unfolding with new life. DNA unwinding, reconnecting, showing ancient strains. It knows what is above, it remembers the rain. It feeds on it. Like old friends that meet again, after millions of years they connect and evolve. There is creation and destruction here. Lost strains, new strains, and accidental ones.

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They battle for dominance in a war that is waged in silence, measured in nanoseconds and millennia simultaneously. We are a blink. We are a snippet. Human kind, just one picture in the photo album of God and we know it.

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Here I am, somewhere in the middle of eternity, yet in the middle of nowhere. This is where I live, and this is how I live. The love for something beyond our comprehension. Something the river tells you everyday.

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A Review: The Sage One…

I don’t ever do reviews. In fact, I’m reasonably sure this is the first that I wasn’t asked to do. There just isn’t artistic freedom in a review, they are very black and white. I want to color. I want hues of blue and green at least…

It all began on a cold dreary morning. The clouds rolled in like a stampede of wild buffalo, charging to a place called nowhere and maybe beyond that. I walked the streets of Gunnison, Colorado alone. My footsteps the only sound. The frozen city slowly passed by, the lights painted their reflections against the ice. My goal was to fish the Taylor, -8 degrees pushed me away. The thoughts of fish flooded my head, but I knew I couldn’t, or could I? Pushing forward my joints began to stiffen and slow. The sidewalk pulled my feet down, begging me to stand still. I couldn’t. Restless, I moved just to move, I couldn’t fish but had to walk. I stopped into a local sporting goods store to warm up and there it was, emitting light from another dimension, or pulling it in from this one. I stared as the cold from my body fell to the floor. “You came in on the right day! We are having a sale”, a voice from behind me called. He didn’t even have to tell me. I was staring at my new rod, no matter what the cost was. Before I knew it, I was walking down the street with a Sage One in my hand and in the blink of an eye, I was on the Taylor. Still -8. I fished. The One wondering if this was its fate. Truth be told, this was its fate. To be used thoroughly, but never abused. For 15 years I fished that old Chinese rod, because I could find no better. The actions were too fast, rods were too short, fads came and went. Even frozen, the One still fought fish well, but still had no idea how it cast at the time. It threw 30 feet of ice with ease. After landing a few fish I knew i had found my new partner. image

That was February of this year, now to get to the meat and potatoes of the review. I love this rod with all of my heart. I really do. It will cast a mile and ask for more, constantly challenging my abilities to throw further. It is really amazing how well it presents a fly at 50-60 feet. Usually, there isn’t enough energy for that. You will also ask when you need to cast that far, I fish a lot of stillwater. With that being said, I use Rio Trout LT. It casts and roll casts very well, and with the energy from the One, it almost doubles that. The Rio line has never cast well under 15′ but the rod compensates a bit for it. A super fast action rod would throw a short cast like that, sloppily (like the horribly stiff Z-Axis). One of my favorite things about the rod is that it spans a distance of rod weights. I have the 5wt and it feels and reacts like a 4wt and it will cast like a 6wt if you get into the meat of the rod, it gives you back the energy you put into it. When you dig into the butt section of the rod, it seamlessly transfers that energy to the tip without that old school rod flop. Sage boasts that the rod is about accuracy, but i beg to differ here. It is accurate, but I think the rod has a lot more to offer in the direction of fighting a fish and casting. I can pull in a small 10″ fish like a 3wt would, or a 20″+ like a 6wt. However, without the drawbacks of either. The upper third of the rod is soft and quick enough to not allow a fish to shake slack into your line and the lower third offers the power to pull, and pull hard without a head shake snapping a 6x tippet. As far as everything else? The case is VERY small and another perk of its design. They can make a smaller diameter rod with the “Konnetic” process that also makes a smaller case. It does require a bit of a trick to fit, but the benefits of the smaller case are well worth it. Did I mention that it is black!? Now you have heard all of these great things, time for the bad stuff.

THE CONS:
#1: The One takes some getting used to. For years you have probably been fighting that natural wobble in the rod you have. You won’t have to compensate here. This results in a lot of loops thrown a bit too tight.
#2: The grip is really short. I’m sure there is a reason. I found myself grabbing the reel seat of my old rod to cast longer distances, I haven’t done that with the One yet. The grip is right, but when you get into a big fish, you want to choke up. There is nowhere to choke up. Which leads me to…
#3: Be prepared to get worn out! Because of how it is designed, its actual weight/length ratio, its natural need to not twist when bending, and its low profile guides, you will work different muscles when fighting a fish. Be warned, a 20″ fish will drain you faster than the fish wears out. This makes things exciting, but at the end of the day, leaves you with a sore arm. Very much like bamboo in that regard. You can cast all day and not feel a thing, but even when it is a lot of 14″ fish, you will feel it. #4: You need to realign your guides a few times during the day. You will know when by your loss of accuracy. It doesn’t happen much when you have room to cast, but when you are laying out 30-40 foot roll casts all day, you might toss half of your rod into the river after a while.
#5: …nope, that covers all of the negatives. Seriously, there is no other con to this rod.

If you don’t already have one, get the One. This is the future of fly fishing that merged with the old school bamboo. It isn’t what you may think. It is so much more. If you bought one and can’t get it in the rod tube, here is some help…

You want to have the grip and tip on the same side.image

The other 2 sections should be thin side up. In the middle slots of the sleeve.
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Fold over the top flap, roll both sides to the middle, and tie a knot.
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Insert into tube knot side first, otherwise you might have trouble stuffing the knot in and getting the cap on. Be gentle while doing this, the tip has a very small diameter and is fragile!!!
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That’s it!! If you have any other questions about my experience with the Sage One, feel free to comment.