Fly Tying: Frye Creek Special

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Frye Creek Special
Frye Creek Special

I spend a fair amount of my fishing time flicking flies on small creeks. Arizona has a good number of these small waters to choose from and the fish are usually quite opportunistic and willing to take a well presented fly. The Frye Creek Special is a super simple pattern that I always turn to if I need trick that picky fish holding in one of those deeper plunge pools. Plus, I’m always looking for a use for my Mearns quail feathers.

The Frye Creek Special is available for purchase in the Arizona Wanderings Shop.

Arizona Wanderings Shop
  • Hook/Bead: #8 streamer hook with a 2.8mm bead
  • Thread: 6/0 Uni
  • Tail: Marabou
  • Body: Arizona Simi Seal
  • Collar: Male Mearns Quail feather
Frye Creek Special
Hook, bead, thread
Frye Creek Special
Tie in the tail
Frye Creek Special
Arizona Simi Seal
Frye Creek Special
Pick out material
Frye Creek Special
Mearns Quail Hackle
Frye Creek Special
Mearns Quail Collar
Frye Creek Special
Pink/Red
Frye Creek Special
Black/Green
Frye Creek Special
Brown/Gold
Frye Creek Special
The Frye Creek Special doing work
Frye Creek Special
Gila Trout falls to the Frye Creek Special

The Frye Creek Special is available for purchase in the Arizona Wanderings Shop.

Arizona Wanderings Shop

 

Arizona Dove Season – The Opener

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Sunrise
Sunrise

I had a good morning in the field with a good friend. Shot a few birds, ate some good grub, drank a few beers, and enjoyed the great outdoors. I am beyond thankful that fall is here.

Tailgate Breakfast
Tailgate Breakfast
Dan's first dove
Dan’s first dove
Plucking
Plucking
Breaking Clays
Breaking Clays

Arizona Fly Fishing: Small Stream Gems

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Arizona Brown Trout
Arizona Brown Trout

The #8 hopper splatted on the surface of the small creek and swirled momentarily in the foam line before disappearing in a flash of orange and brown. The scene replayed throughout the day in all of the typical runs and pools with several nice fish showing my fly love. The real gem of a fish came on an articulated streamer pulled through a deep run created by a large rock on the far side of the creek. The big brown must have been waiting there in the slack water biding his time and waiting for his unsuspecting prey when my streamer swam by.

The fishing was good that day, although I was more excited about walking through the woods and hearing the creek, and birds, and wind, and the rest of nature moving around me.

Fly Rod and Hopper pattern
Weapon of choice
Arizona Brown Trout
Streamer eater
Small Stream
Small Stream
Arizona Brown Trout
A handful of brown trout

The joy of cleaning pontoon boats

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Cleaning pontoons
Cleaning pontoons

The days have been hot, and we don’t often look for a reason to head out into the blast furnace that is Phoenix in July. But, I take a certain satisfaction from stowing away clean gear, so we donned our swimsuits and headed out into the bright morning sunshine.

After washing down and giving them a gentle scrub to work off the dirt and mud, I had my assistant give it a thorough spray down with some 303 Aerospace protectant. Landeen turned me on to it when I first bought my boat, and it has kept the pontoons looking fantastic over time.

As with any water project with a two and half year old, the job took three times as long and ended in a water fight. My hope is that she learns two important lessons: put gear away clean and never miss out on a water fight.

303 Aerospace Protectant
303 Aerospace Protectant
Drying out
Hang Dry

Arizona Fly Fishing: Becker Lake

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Becker Lake AZ
Becker Lake Rainbow

After a day of fishing dry flies to Apache trout at Christmas Tree Lake, we ate like kings around the campfire. Waking up the next morning with a half a day to kill, we broke camp and headed to Becker Lake to see if we could tease out a couple of those big rainbows that live in the lake.

The lake was like glass when we pulled in to the empty parking lot. After a short row across the lake, I followed the lead of my two buddies who had fished the lake before, and started searching the water with a big foam hopper. Just as I was giving up hope, the water around my fly erupted as a Becker Lake rainbow savagely attacked the hopper. After a hard hookset and a pretty good fight to the net,  I cradled the 18″ fish in my hands before releasing it back to the lake. I fished for a couple more hours before rowing back to the boat ramp.

My first trip to Becker Lake was a memorable one. As an avid stream fisherman, I’ve really enjoyed learning about still water fishing and experiencing the high country Arizona lakes. I’m grateful to have good buddies who I can ask questions and glean information from regarding fishing still water lakes. With temps soaring here in the Valley, I’m already looking forward to loading up the truck and heading north.

Becker Lake
Alex looking for cruisers
Becker Lake
The view back towards the boat ramp
Becker Lake AZ
Landon working the weed beds
Becker Lake Arizona
Chop on Becker Lake

Fly Fishing Arizona: Christmas Tree Lake

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Sunrise over Hawley Lake
Sunrise over Hawley Lake

“Blip.” A trout rises to the right.

The fly dropped softly, a foot short of the center of the concentric ripples and the krystal flash wings gleamed in the morning sunlight. There was an ever so slight pause before the nose of the Apache trout broke the surface. The ant pattern disappeared, the hook was set, and the fish danced its way to the net.

This scene played itself many times over for most of the morning. At Christmas Tree Lake on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, the Apache trout like to rise to dry flies until the sun gets too high in the sky. Around eleven, we switched things up and stripped small leeches, damsels, and nymphs off of the banks with pretty good success. As evening approached, there was another flurry of activity on the surface as trout began rising again to ants and mayflies.

Back in the Valley, the temps were well over 100 degrees, but after a light rain as we got off the water, the mountain air was crisp and clean. It’s easy to have a good day when the fish are biting and you’re hanging out with a couple of good buddies.

Apache Trout
Christmas Tree Lake Apache Trout
Alex Landeen
Alex Landeen doing what Alex Landeen does
Apache Trout
Apache Trout
Landon working the bank at Christmas Tree Lake
Landon working the bank
JW Young and Sons Pridex Reel
JW Young and Sons Pridex Reel
Christmas Tree Lake
Strip, Strip Strip, Set
Alex Landeen
Alex hooked up
Christmas Tree Lake
The Fleet

Rambling Review: Vortex Viper 15×50 Binoculars

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Vortex Viper 15x50
Vortex Viper 15×50

Rambling Review: Vortex Viper 15×50 Binoculars

Why:

I grew up hunting back East where it’s pretty easy to get by without a set of optics. Life in the West is a different game and quality binoculars are worth their weight in gold when looking for animals in the wide open expanse of the Arizona mountains. I’ve gotten by with a pair of Nikon 10x42s, but there were so many times when I needed more to look a little farther. After a bunch of research, the Vortex Viper 15x50s were the perfect addition to my tripod for javelina and deer season.

Vortex Viper 15x50
Vortex Viper 15×50

First impressions:

  • HD Lens Elements – HD (High Density) extra-low dispersion glass delivers impressive resolution and color fidelity, resulting in High Definition images.
  • XR Lens Coatings – Vortex proprietary XR anti-reflective coatings, fully multi-coated on all air-to-glass lens surfaces, increase light transmission for maximum brightness.
  • Roof Prisms – Valued for greater durability and a more compact size.
  • Waterproof – Optics are sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside the binocular.
  • Fogproof – Argon gas purging guarantees superior fogproof and waterproof performance.
  • Rubber Armor – Provides a secure, non-slip grip, and durable external protection.
  • ArmorTek – Ultra-hard, scratch-resistant coating protects exterior lenses from scratches, oil and dirt.
Vortex Viper 15x50
Javelina with the help of the Vortex Viper 15x50s

Field Use:

Setting up the first morning of the season and putting my eyes to the Vortex Viper 15x50s was like entering a whole new world. The first thing that jumped out to me was the clarity and brightness of the image when viewed through the HD glass of the Vipers. On that first morning we spotted a herd of javelina almost a mile and half out. I had the opportunity to sit side by side with a buddy who was using a pair of Swarovski SLC 15×56 and view the herd through both binoculars. In truth the Swarovskis were exceptional, and to my untrained eye, I could see the slight difference between the two. The Vipers however definitely held their own against the top of the line binos on the market and provided a crystal clear picture edge to edge. When considering the discrepancy in price between these two great binoculars, the HD lens Vortex Vipers put up some stiff competition for it’s competitors.

The Vortex Viper 15×50 binoculars boast a rugged design with Vortex’s Rubber Armor coating, heavy duty O-rings that keep out moisture, as well as Argon gas purging to keep them fog free. One of the most attractive features of the Vortex binoculars is the guarantee that comes with all Vortex optics:

  • Unlimited Lifetime Warranty
  • Fully transferable
  • No warranty card to fill out
  • No receipt needed to hang on to

Over the following month, I carried the Vipers and spent many hours looking through them and watching animals at much greater distances than I could have with my 10x42s. They absolutely filled a huge need in my optics lineup. I still carry my 10s on my chest, but the 15s are always in my pack for situations where I need to see a bit farther.

Vortex Viper 15x50
Vortex Viper 15×50

Pros:

Price

Quality HD Glass

Durable Construction

Vortex VIP Warranty

Prognosis:  The Vortex Viper 15×50 binoculars offer top of the line glass at a middle of the road price. If you are in the market for a new set of 15s, The Vipers definitely deserve consideration 

* Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. The Vortex Viper 15×50 binoculars were provided for the purpose of this review by Camera Land. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.