Rambling Review – Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod

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Rambling Review – Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass 7’6 4-weight

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod
Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod

Why:

Let me start by saying, that in my humble quiver of fly rods, the Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass 7’6 4-weight stands out as the most beautiful. I was lucky enough to win this fly rod in the Fiberglass Manifesto’s photo contest in 2012 and since that time it has become one of my favorite rods to fish.  Although I am usually reaching for a rod with a faster action to cut through our Arizona canyon winds or to throw big meaty streamers, I cherish the days when the wind dies down and the trout are looking up for a dry fly. On days such as this, I gladly reach for the Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass 7’6 4-weight to fling dry flies at finicky trout.

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod
The Thomas & Thomas Heirloom 7’6 4-weight on a small stream in Colorado

First impressions:

The look - The T&T Heirloom rod is built on an 3 piece olive green blank and contrasted beautifully with deep orange/brown wraps that match the bubinga wood spacer. The final touch of a bright aluminum uplocking hardware with the Thomas & Thomas engraving give this fly rod an extremely classy look.

American made - All Thomas and Thomas rods are made, start to finish, in New England.

The price tag - I was a bit taken aback when I looked at the price tag on the Heirloom series, as the number is a bit out of my wheelhouse. In all honesty though, at $700, the Heirloom fiberglass rods are certainly not T&T’s most expensive rods. The Thomas & Thomas name is synonymous with fine American made fly rods and the Heirloom series is not an exception.

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod
Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod

 

Field Use:

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass 7’6 4-weight is a very fine rod and is was built to do one thing exceptionally well – delicately present dry flies. Thomas & Thomas describe the action of this rod as “subtle” and every time I read that word it makes me smile, because it so perfectly captures this rod. Not to get all weird and cerebral on you but the Heirloom is a wand. It has a rhythm all of it’s own and once you find that rhythm the presentation is nothing short of magic.

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod
Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod

I paired the Thomas & Thomas Heirloom fiberglass fly rod with my Orvis Battenkill Barstock, Cortland’s Sylk Line in 4wt  (which is an awesome throwback to old-school silk lines), and a 4′ furled leader. With the bamboo-like action of the Heirloom, I was able flick flies to fish rising on the creek in that 10-15′ range with ease but also found that airing out an ant pattern to a rising fish at 35′ from my pontoon boat was just as pleasing.

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod
Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod on a high country Apache trout

Nothing puts a smile on your face like a big fish on a glass rod. The pulsing 16 inch Apache trout put a beautiful bend in the 7’6 4-weight while protecting the lightweight tippet. I’m not above getting down and dirty, so I also took the T&T Heirloom to Canyon Lake after some panfish in the spring. Equally as entertaining and proof that fine fiberglass fly rods play just as well with sunfish, dirty water, and cut-offs as they do with trout, crystal clear water, and waders.

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod paired with a BBS II and Cortland Sylk Line
Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod paired with a BBS II and Cortland Sylk line

 

Pros:

Beautiful craftsmanship

American made

Subtle bamboo-like action

Superb dry fly presentation

Cons:

Price tag

Thomas & Thomas Heirloom Fiberglass Fly Rod
Lining up the guides

Prognosis:  The Thomas & Thomas Heirloom fiberglass fly rod truly is a work of art and a very fine fly rod.  If you are interested in adding a beautiful fiberglass rod to your collection, the Heirloom 7’6 4-weight certainly deserves your consideration.

* Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. 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.

Arizona Fly Fishing: The White Mountains

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Arizona Brown Trout
Arizona Brown Trout

A last minute trip fell into my lap a couple weekends back, and I found myself driving through the night to check out new spot. Armed with a 5 weight, a box of flies and a few smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I hiked in to find the water off color but still fishable. The first pool gave up a nice creamy Arizona brown trout, as did a couple of the remaining pools. It’s my opinion that fishing stained water can be extremely productive for bigger fish. I wasn’t disappointed.

Arizona Brown Trout
Spots
Arizona Brown Trout
Mouthful
Arizona Brown Trout
Hopper
Arizona Brown Trout
Hopper
Arizona Brown Trout
Arizona Brown Trout
PBJ
PB&J
Arizona Brown Trout
Adipose
Water
Water

 

 

Rambling Review: BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

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BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

Rambling Review

Why:

For those of you following this blog, you know that my life has greatly changed this past year with the birth of my daughter. Although my weekend trips are a bit fewer in number and more calculated when planned, I’ve still been able to get out here and there. I do have to say that my greatest joy has come from spending time in the woods and on the water with my wife and baby girl. Camping with a 6 month old has turned out to be a bit of a trick, but my wife and I are adjusting. Our inquisitive little girl is always on the go and so happy when she’s outside. I received more than a few emails from friends and readers asking me about how my wife and I have managed camping with our little girl. One of the greatest editions to our camping arsenal has been the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light.

Papa and JoJo
Munchkin

First impressions:

The weight – Compared to the 30+ pounds of our standard pack and play, the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light weighs in at a measly 13 pounds. That’s pretty nice when you’re hefting it into the bed of the truck at the end of a long weekend in the woods.

Dimensions – Folded up in the carrying case, theTravel Crib Light measures 19 x 23.5 x 5.5 in. Fully set up it runs 32 x 44 x 24 in.

The materials – The BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light is manufactured to some pretty high standards and all the material is fair game for chewing and gumming, which, as I have learned, is what babies do.

Field Use:

As a new father, I’ve learned that a college degree doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to put baby furniture together. To be honest, those first couple months were touch and go as I assembled cribs, swings, furniture and all the other paraphernalia that comes with fatherhood. The BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light certainly bucks that trend. It comes in a handy carrying bag and once unzipped, it’s pretty straightforward on setting it up.

BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light 2
1. Take it out of the bag.
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light 3
2. Fold it open
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
3. Insert handy peg into the leg of the crib
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
4. Move to desired location
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
5. Insert Baby

We were extremely happy with how the whole BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light worked for us on our couple of camping trips. One thing that was really nice was that were able to come home and unzip the actual fabric cover and throw it in the washing machine. You can only imagine how much dirt our gorgeous little girl found in the woods.

As you can see from the picture, the legs of the crib are at an angle which really adds the stability of the whole crib. The BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light sits very low which causes it to have a low center of gravity and keep it from tipping over.

BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

Pros:

Extremely light weight

Super simple and intuitive to set up

Quick to set up and take down

Carrying case

Washable

Perfect for camping and travel

Cons:

Cost – As with most quality made products, the price tag on the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light reflects the high quality manufacturing that has become synonymous with BabyBjörn.

BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

Prognosis:  If you are looking into the logistics of camping with a baby, do yourself a favor and pick up a BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light. You won’t regret it.

 

* Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. 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.  The BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light was provided by BabyBjörn for the purpose of 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.









DIY Boat Fly Box

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DIY Bugger Box
DIY Bugger Box

I’ve almost pulled the trigger on buying one of the big bugger boxes or boat fly boxes from the big name companies more than a couple times. Each time, my better judgement stopped me from spending the $40-50 on a fly box, but I kept my eyes out for a deal. Eventually, I found a screaming deal on a blank box, and figured I’d make my own for under $10.

Ingredients:

  • Box – I found these green Flambeau Tradesman 10.5 boxes on sale for $1.84
  • 6mm Foam – You can find 6mm online. I was a bit impatient and didn’t want to wait for it to ship. The local craft store had one piece of 6mm foam left. Of course it was pink.
  • Spray Adhesive – My wife had some of this spray adhesive laying around. Pretty simple to use.
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
DIY Boat Fly Box
DIY Boat Fly Box
DIY Boat Fly Box
1. Flip the box open and push it down firmly on the foam.
DIY Boat Fly Box
This makes a pretty distinct outline which is easy to mark with a pen.
DIY Boat Fly Box
Trim the foam to fit in the bottom of the box.
DIY Boat Fly Box
Take a straight edge and mark where you want your slits in the foam. Follow it up with a utility knife blade.
DIY Boat Fly Box
In a well ventilated area, spray the back side of the foam and press it firmly to the bottom of the box. I also ran a line of super glue around the edges for a more secure bond.
DIY Boat Fly Box
Fill and Fish.

Arizona Dove Season Opener

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Arizona Dove Season
Arizona Dove Season

Today was the Arizona Dove Season Opener and I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to swing my shotgun at some quick flying birds. I met up with a buddy before daylight and we headed into the desert towards a marginal dove spot that I know about. It’s not the greatest spot to hunt doves, but I know if you stand in one spot long enough, even a blind squirrel will find a nut.

After the first hour and a half of daylight we were looking at a small pile of five birds and feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, so we hopped in the truck and moved a 1/4 mile. We stopped to empty our bladders and 4 doves flew overhead. Perfect. Downing the last of the coffee, we spent the next couple hours making our pile of doves grow until we had a respectable number for lunch.

We tried something a bit different and plucked all of our birds. Plucking takes a bit more care and time than just breasting out a bird, and it gave DJ the time to really dive in and tell me about his recent Alaska float trip. After the first couple of doves, the process starts going pretty quick and in no time at all we were looking at 20 or so perfectly plucked doves. After cleaning up and saying our goodbyes, I rolled on home and pulled up a Hank Shaw recipe that I’ve been wanting to try. Cajun Grilled Dove. An Arizona dove season opener doesn’t get much better than that.

Doves
Doves
Arizona Dove Season
DJ hard at work
Arizona Dove Season
Pile of Doves
Plucking Doves
Plucking
Feathers
Plucking Champs
Plucked Doves
Ready
Ingrediants
Ingredients
Success
Perfection

Gearing up for Arizona Dove Season

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Clay Pigeons
Breaking clays

With the Arizona Dove Season right around the corner, I was lucky to get out a couple of times to break some clays and try and knock some rust off of my swing. My first opportunity was with a couple buddies after work, and by the time we had run through a couple boxes of shells, we were all doing pretty well.

I almost fell out of my seat when a couple days later, my wife asked if I could show her how to shoot the shotgun and teach her how to shoot clays. How could I say no to that? Grandma came and babysat while Mom and Dad stole away for a couple hours. After going over the basics, my wife was knocking clay birds out of the air with some surprising accuracy. She’s a natural.

A couple things to note:

1. Arizona Dove Season opens September 1, 2014. Know the Regs – 2014 Dove Regulations

2. Pick up your shells. Wether you’re hunting or target shooting in the desert, pick up your shells. It saddens me to say it, but someday the litter, shells, targets, broken glass and trash left by target shooters is going ruin it for everyone. We live in a beautiful state with very lenient rules for target shooters. Don’t ruin it by being lazy. Clean up after yourself.

3. I’ve always been a big fan of Hank Shaw. Check out his dove recipes. Some of them look amazing.

 

Clay Pigeons
He’s getting away
Clay Pigeons
The art of throwing clays

 

Shotgun shells
Paraphernalia
Shotguns
Shotguns

 

Clays
Clays
Glock
Glock
Target Practice
My lady making busting clays look good
handgun
I pity the fool who breaks into my house
Shells launching
I love ejectors

Rambling Review – Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

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Rambling Review – Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line getting ready to get lined

Why: With the recent purchase of the pontoon boat and the subsequent exploration of Arizona’s stillwaters, I found myself in need of picking up some intermediate fly line, in order to work the high country lakes in search of some trout. After a little bit of looking, I was able to get my hands on some of the Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

First impressions:

The facts: The Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line is a weight forward line with a 30′ head, complete with a welded loop on the head of the fly line for quick changing leaders. The core of the line is solid monofilament, which is then covered with a supple, crystal clear intermediate coating.

Sink Rate: The Cortland’s Clear Camo Fly Line is designed as the name implies to be an “intermediate” sinking line. The line is built to sink at a rate of 1.25″ to 1.75″. 

The color: Having mainly fished floating line, the coloring of the clear camo fly line is pretty striking. The fly line is actually clear but is dyed in Cortland, New York to give it the “camo” coloring. In the water, the camo line virtually disappears as it sink to the desired depth.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

 

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
It always helps to have a buddy or two around to help spool line

Field Use:

This is the first summer with my new pontoon boat and I’ve been spending a good amount of time exploring the lakes here in Arizona. Most days when I get to the lake, I’ll rig up two rods. I always rig one with floating line for dry flies and one with the Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line. I’ve taken to using a short Uni-thread furled leader without any floatant. The leader tends to absorb water and sinks fairly evenly with the intermediate line.

The Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line really excels in the 1′ to 10′ range in the water column. The beauty of the intermediate line is being able to know and control where my flies are in the water column. By simply counting down as the line sinks, I can determine how deep my flies are fishing. From this point, it’s pretty simple to start at one depth and work your way deeper or shallower until you start running into fish.

I have been fishing the Cortland Clear Camo line since early spring and it truly is becoming one of my favorite fly lines. Once thing in particular that I like about using an intermediate line for stripping small streamers and leeches on a lake is that there is never a big belly or hinge in the line like you would get with a floating line. An intermediate line allows you to be in constant contact with your flies as the line sinks at a consistent rate, which I feel has helped my success rate on the water. This Cortland Intermediate line is really ideal on windy days too. Since the whole line sinks, the choppy water does not push the line around on the surface of the water, like it would with a floating line.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

In recent years, I’ve become a bit religious about cleaning fly lines. Fly line is expensive and I want to make sure it lasts as long as possible. After most trips, I like to clean soak my line in mild soapy warm water and pull it through a clean cloth. I’ve heard of guys who fish Cortland intermediate line pretty hard and have had the same line for years. So far I’ve been impressed with how the line has performed, and I intend on getting years of quality use out of it.

Some things to keep in mind with all intermediate lines is that once your rod is strung up with intermediate line, it’s a bit tough to just switch over to dry fly fishing. It is a pretty good idea to bring along another rod rigged with floating line in case fish start rising. Another thing that is a fairly common complaint about intermediate line is that they retain a ton of memory. I was surprised and pleased by the minimal memory coils in my Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line.

I paired the Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line with a couple different rods and found that my TFO BVK 5 weight was the winner. The BVK has a fairly fast action and the Cortland Clear Camo loaded it quite nicely. With the little bit of extra weight in the intermediate line, I felt the line cast comfortably in the 30-50 foot range, but was perfectly adept at pushing the line farther if need be. Bottom line, it’s a fun line to cast.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line combined with a hand spun furled leader

Pros:

Excellent for still water fishing

Camo coloring

Cost (as far as intermediate lines go, the Cortland 444 is pretty reasonable)

Durability (so far has been great)

Smooth through the cast

Made in the USA

Cons:

The Cortland Clear Camo does have a bit of memory like all intermdiate lines do, but nothing that a bit of stretching didn’t fix.

 

Prognosis:  I love this line for stillwater fishing. If you see me on a mountain lake here in AZ, you can bet I’ll have one rod rigged up with Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line.

 

* Disclaimer: The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. 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.  The Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line was provided by Cortland for the purpose of 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.

Floating the Colorado

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The Colorado River
The Mighty Colorado

You can really blame it on Alex Landeen. In truth, the reason I bought my pontoon boat was for the sole purpose of floating the Colorado River. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed exploring the lakes here in Arizona, but a few months back when he started telling us about his 15 mile float down the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry, I was already counting pennies and looking at pontoon boats.

Fast forward to last Friday, Jason and I skirted our work activities and drove up to meet Alex, Marvin, and Scott. We milled around looking at the river, wading up to our knees to cool off, and waited for the backhaul boat that would take us, our gear, and our pontoon boats upriver to the dam. When we were finally loaded and the boat left the no-wake zone, our driver eased the throttle forward, and we left what little civilization there is at Lees Ferry behind us. The boats dropped us off at an upper beach were we assembled our boats, stowed gear,and rigged our fly rods for the short jaunt down to the Ropes camping area. We were in to fish right away. Smiles all around.

We camped at Ropes that evening, and after dinner from a bag, we swapped stories about fishing trips before turning in for the night. I’ve been on several multi-day float trips before, but this was the first one in my own personal watercraft. So the thought of my helpless little pontoon anchored on the mighty Colorado had me waking up at all hours of the night, wondering if that little red pontoon was still there. I resisted the urge to done my headlamp and go look, and when the sun finally started to brighten the sky the next morning, I found that little red pontoon waiting for me like a puppy ready to play.

Gobbling down a quick breakfast, we eased the boats into the strong current of the Colorado river and started plying the edges of the river for feisty rainbow trout. It was pretty much non-stop all day long. Fish were looking up, and we pulled many fish on hopper and cicada patterns. Everyone had a sink tip rigged with streamers, and when things slowed on occasion with top water, you could always clean up with simi-seals and wooly buggers.

The three days and two nights that we spent on the river were amazing, and although the fishing was great, I came home babbling to my wife more about the experience of the river and the fun times with good friends rather than the actual fishing itself. So although I blame Landeen for my pontoon boat purchase, I ultimately owe him for opening my eyes to the Colorado River. Without a doubt I’ll be going back.

Lees Ferry Backhaul
The Backhaul
Colorado River Backhaul
Colorado River Backhaul
Lees Ferry Fishing
Assembling
Cicadas
First cast, first fish
Mountainhouse
Decisions, Decisions
AZ by the Fly
Jason on the Colorado
Floating the Colorado River
Floating
Lees Ferry Cicadas
Fish were looking up
Colorado River Fishing
Scott working the walls
Fish in net
Colorado River Rainbow
Camp life
Camp life
6 Mile
Camp
Fly Rods
The Line up
Dave Scadden Pontoon boat
I love this pontoon.
Cicada Fish
Cookie cutter rainbows
Promont outdoors
Some options

 

Alex Landeen
The man, the myth, the legend
Lees Ferry Fishing
Marvin hooked up above 4 mile
Lees Ferry Fishing
4 Mile
Lees Ferry
The takeout at Lees Ferry
Fly fishing gear
Home again with a pile of gear to clean and sort through

 

What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt. It is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else. – Hal Boyle

Our trip through the lens of Alex Landeen.