There’s a new podcast in town

There are countless fly fishing-related podcasts from which to choose, if so inclined. I say “countless” because I’ve never counted them—I actually have no idea just how many there are. However, there’s only one that began just a few days ago in little old Duvall, WA: The Open Fly Podcast. And there’s only one podcast with standards so low that I’m allowed in the studio for recording sessions.

Inside the lavish studios of The Open Fly

The Open Fly was the brain child of Evan Burck, a neighboring buddy of mine who is a big wig at Allen Fly Fishing. Evan is a fishing machine and despite lacking the social skills necessary to thrive in every day life, he is a pretty smart dude. With a background in audio recording, he is the technical brains behind the podcast.

One of Evan’s first intelligent moves was to bring Derek Young onboard as a co-host. Derek has the social skills needed to carry the podcast, and with his background as a fly fishing guide—Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year for 2011, mind you—the show has some added credibility. Derek is owner of Emerging Rivers Guide Services, by the way.

The obvious question then becomes, why me?  Clearly a lapse in judgment on Evan’s part. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that he needed a logo for the new podcast (and didn’t want to pay someone to do it). There’s also the likely possibility that Evan and Derek needed a punching bag for the studio. Whatever the case may be, here I am: the Village Idiot of the Open Fly Podcast.

Despite the fact that we joke around a fair bit, we’re very serious about bringing a solid show each week, with conservation being a foremost and important consideration. Our first episode features Shane Anderson of North Fork Studios. Shane has produced a great documentary, “Wild Reverence: The Plight of the American Wild Steelhead.” This is a movie that needed to be made and shines the light on a very important topic. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Wild Reverence in the coming months as Shane promotes his film across the country at film festivals. Shane is passionate about fishing and conservation—it’s a great interview.

Another weekly segment is Guide Stories, in which Derek welcomes a different fly fishing guide to tell stories, share tips and generally endure the hot seat.  Our first episode features Hutch Hutchinson, regional business manager for Orvis, Federation of Fly Fishers Master Casting Instructor, and highly experienced guide. Not to mention a super nice guy.


Hey, Hutch—your fly is open!

If a good show isn’t enough to entice you to tune in, we’ll be giving away free stuff each week, too. Listen to find out how you can win an Alpha III reel size #4 from Allen Fly Fishing this week.

Our first episode, and any future episodes, can be found here : The Open Fly Podcast
And now available on iTunes: Click this link

Please give us a listen and pass the word. And remember, your Fly is Open.


Don’t choke on your chicken.

Don’t try this at home.

I’ve long been a fast eater, prone to taking rather large bites—particularly when it comes to carnivorous feeding. And chicken has always been akin to dessert for me. As a matter of fact my dad used to call me a ‘chicken hawk’ because I loved the bird more than cookies or candy. From a very young age I could strip a chicken drumstick clean to the bone, knuckles and all, before quickly moving on to the next appendage. I stopped shy of eating the bones themselves only because I was told they can splinter and become dangerous. Admittedly it is was hard for me to think of chicken as being dangerous. Outrageous! Chicken has always been nothing but pure goodness, and each time chicken was served in our house there ensued a veritable feeding frenzy. And that never changed as I became an adult. I am not inclined toward violence, but do NOT get between me and a cooked chicken.

I’m a chicken hawk.

And so it was on New Year’s Eve day, when I happened upon a roasted poultry carcass in the kitchen, that my eyes lit up and my salivary glands began to do their thing. A low growl emanated from deep within as I enthusiastically commenced to hoark down large hunks of dark meat like it was going out of style. Before the first bite had passed through the pipe into my stomach it was followed immediately by another chunk. Having not eaten much all day in my haste to strip the house of Christmas lights and perform other assorted outdoor chores, I was ravenous. Chicken. Grrrr…Don’t get between the UA and his chicken (I may be repeating myself).

Nom nom nom.

As the sensation of pain/pressure built in my esophagus I realized, Houston, there may have been a slight problem. I didn’t feel as though I was choking, per se—certainly I wasn’t panicked or I’d have gestured to Mrs. UA to commence with the Heimlich Maneuver. Of course she’d have thought I was being inappropriate, again, and would have dismissed my antics. I remained calm, likening the situation to a sweeper blocking a river channel. I reasoned that flood waters tend to remove woody debris, so I reached for a glass of water to help clear the blockage. I tipped the glass to my mouth and…

Imagine this river is my throat and that tree is made of chicken.

The next thing I knew I was seated in the family room recliner, being instructed by Mrs. UA not to get up, “The EMT’s are here.”

Thanks to Duvall Fire for their rapid response.

I had no idea why I was sitting in the chair, how I got there, or why a very tall, handsome man dressed in a firefighter’s uniform was seated before me, asking questions as Mrs. UA swooned in the background. I answered the inquisitions as best I could, apparently repeating myself several times. It should also be noted that my head seemed to hurt and as I reached to remove my hat I felt a growing bump on the back of my head. When I pulled my hand away, there was a small amount of blood and hair, attached to a small chunk of scalp. Slowly it came back to me…

I have a new bald spot.

Up to this point Mrs. UA had no idea what had happened—all she knew was that she had heard a loud crash as the water glass hit the table. Turning to see what the commotion was all about, she observed me falling backward at a 45 degree angle, headed toward the floor. I didn’t crumple into a heap, nor did my knees buckle. No, I toppled straight over like a short tree, my head luckily breaking my fall as I hit the hardwoods.

Series of events.

Mrs. UA had initially feared the worst, that I’d suffered a stroke. I was conscious but not alert as the 911 dispatcher calmly had my wife conduct a couple of simple tests that ruled out a stroke. Perhaps I’d had a heart attack? Mrs. UA had no idea until I told the EMT what had happened: I had passed out trying to flood my blocked craw. Apparently I repeated myself several times when the EMT’s first arrived, but I have no recollection of having done any such thing. Apparently I repeated myself several times when…oh, wait.

I was still feeling rather fuzzy as a series of questions came my way, one of which was whether or not I had recently taken any medications. To that I responded affirmatively, “I took a couple of Tylenol earlier today.”

“Why did you take Tylenol?” asked the EMT.

“Yesterday I drove 12 hours round trip to Oregon. My neck and back are just a little road weary,” was my response.

“What were you doing in Oregon?” questioned the EMT.

“I had to drive to LaGrande to pick up a new boat…are you a fisherman, by chance?” I inquired, still a bit loopy.

Turns out both he and his partner were, so I insisted that they open the door to the garage to see my new toy. They instantly became my new best friends, as this is what they saw…

My new toy: Stream Tech Salmonfly

After a quick ride to the ER where the doctor checked my blood sugar levels, hooked me up to an EKG and ultimately did a CT scan, it was determined that other than a mild concussion, I was medically normal. Mrs. UA took me home where we enjoyed a rather low-key New Year’s Eve. The next morning I awoke with a headache, which isn’t terribly uncommon on New Year’s Day. But instead of alcohol, it was chicken I had to blame for the way I was feeling. Since then Mrs. UA has had me a on a short leash come mealtime, watching over me carefully to make sure that I take small bites and chew my food 20 times. Chicken still excites me and I’ll have to exercise caution and dig deep for self discipline whenever confronted by the tempting bird.

But really this isn’t about me—it’s about my new boat.

UA in ER after EKG and CT scan. I’m OK, FYI.

Rafts and rod tubes

This is not a raft.

Most hard drift boats manufactured in the last few years come equipped with integrated rod tubes for protecting fly rods (at least part of the rod, anyway) whilst in transit downstream. This is an invaluable feature as it’s important to have a safe place to stow the sticks when you’re, well, on the sticks. Rafts, conversely, do not have the ability to include said built-in tubes and without such a protective feature one risks damage to, or loss of, the rods. Therefore many folks rig some sort of protective sleeve or tube for this very purpose.  I recently got myself a Stream Tech Salmonfly drift raft and this matter of creating protective rod storage was my first priority. While researching how best to do this I encountered many different solutions, including some pre-fabricated tubes. Here are some sources for ideas that I encountered:

• Raft rod storage ideas

• Fly rod holders for fishing frame

• Rod storage on rafts

What follows is my personal solution.

I opted to start with a 10 foot section of 1-1/2 inch gray PVC conduit. My intention is to stow one single-handed rod per tube. If you want to have a tube to accommodate more than one rod you will obviously select a larger diameter PVC blank. All but two of my single handed rods are 9 foot. I also have a 10 foot 8 weight and a 7 foot 3 weight. The 10 foot tube will accommodate all these rods.

Step 1: Determine the bend. Position the length of PVC where it will be attached to your raft frame. Mark with a pen or pencil the point at which you wish to bend the tube to conform to the contour of your boat. NOTE: Do not leave the PVC conduit in place on the boat when proceeding to Step 2. Heat guns and inflatable boats do not make for good bed fellows. Place the conduit on the ground—a garage floor works nicely for this.

Step 2: Heat the PVC. Commence doing this only after the conduit has been placed a safe distance away from your boat. There are several ways to heat PVC. Electricians use heat blankets and heat boxes for bending conduit, but if you don’t have access to one of these commercial tools a simple a heat gun will suffice nicely. I happen to have a heat gun that I bought for welding loops into fly line. Begin by holding the heat gun approximately 6 inches from the PVC. Grasping the conduit with your other hand, rotate the conduit so that you are applying heat evenly. It doesn’t take long before the PVC begins to soften—be careful not to overheat or burn the PVC by holding your heat gun too close. Once the PVC is pliable, bend the conduit as desired. If it isn’t bending as you had hoped, apply more heat until you get a nice smooth curve to the material. Hold the conduit in the bent position as it cools. After it has cooled, re-position it on your boat to check for fit. If you have bent too much or not enough, remove the conduit from your boat once again and apply more heat. Adjust the bend accordingly. Once you’ve achieve the shape you want, let it cool for a few minutes.

Step 3: Mark the slot to be cut for your fly rod. Position the now-bent tube on your boat once again. Using a straight edge (I used a 3 foot carpenter’s level) mark the cutting lines for the slot. My slot is 1-1/4 inches wide, which accommodates standard cork grip on a fly rod. How long the cutout for your slot will be is entirely up to you. I wanted to be able to stow and retrieve rods from inside the boat so I made the slots 38″ long. If you don’t mind having to get out of the boat in order to access the rod tubes, your slot can be much smaller. Once you have marked the side cuts for the rod slot, mark the end cuts. I opted to leave 2-1/2 inches at the stern end of the conduit to accommodate a rod with a fighting butt.

Custom-shortened jigsaw blade for shallow cutting.

Step 4: Cut your slots.  NOTE: Again, it’s imperative to remove the conduit from your boat before you begin this task, as saw blades and inflatable boats do not mix well. Depending on the tools you have at your disposal you will cut your tubes accordingly. My tool of choice is the old jigsaw. However, a standard jigsaw blade is too long to allow for making a shallow cut into a conduit that is only 1-1/2″ in diameter. My solution was to shorten the blade by snapping it off to a desired length. I used C-clamps to secure the PVC to my work bench so that the conduit would not move while making the cuts. Despite going slow and steady, the cuts are not as precise as if they’d been made on a table saw. However, they’re pretty darn straight. Once the two long cuts were done, I used a hack saw to make the perpendicular cuts at each end of the slot.

Step 5: Sand your cuts.  The sharp edges of your cuts will need to be rounded so as not to slice your hands or damage your fly rods. Using sandpaper you will also be able to remove any PVC burrs and rough spots.

You are now done with the fabrication of your rod tubes. Fasten to your frame as needed. You may elect to use a velcro strap or a small ball & bungee chord to place around the tube near the reel to hold it securely in position.

This project cost me $4.95 for each length of PVC and took less than an hour to complete. Your mileage may vary, but I worked slowly and methodically, measuring twice and cutting once as opposed to the alternative.

For stowing Spey rods I plan to fabricate similar tubes using 2-1/2 inch conduit in 8 foot lengths. The 13+ foot long rods will be broken down in half before being stowed so there will be no need to bend the conduit.