Fall Ghost Pupa

Photo: Clint Bova
The fall brings typically low clear water, weary surface feeding trout, and lots of “boil rises”. My midge box is stocked with a favorite pattern that I have edited over the last ten years into a very no frills pupa design. After the chironomids larva stage the pupa develops a pronounced thorax and as it shucks in the surface film it begins to splay its legs and wings. A sparse horizontal hackle collar that appears translucent gives the impression of this shucking display. Using a dyed gray turkey T-base feather gives you an identifiable profile in the water but not as contrasty as a white post. White posts breaking the trouts cone of vision will scare a shallow spookey pool full of browns. Hence the name “Fall Ghost Pupa”. I have used D-rib and turkey biots for the body but have found that dyed quills add extra flotation for the TMC 2487 hook. The slightly canted wing post works great with the geometry of this hook and hangs it in the surface film imitating the natural very well.

The natural breaking the surface film (Photo: NGIS)

Hook: TMC 2487 #16-20
Body: Dyed Black Quill
Thorax: Dyed Black Silk
Wing Post: Turkey T-Base Dyed Gray
Hackle: Light Dun

Photos: Clint Bova


A Mayfly's Life

 Sometimes I bring back a fox or two from the River
to keep me company while I plane strips and let them
flutter around me. Stenonema Vicarium are muscular
enough that you can tie a strand of 8/0 silk to one of 
their legs and fly them around the room like little kites
They seem to like to land on my bamboo shavings
and are curious and somewhat more
athletic than other mayfly's.
~Clint Bova

 A Mayfly's Life 
by Mary Ann Hoberman ~Named Children's Poet Laureate

Think how fast a year flies by
A month flies by
A week flies by
Think how fast a day flies by
A Mayfly’s life lasts but a day
A single day
To live and die
A single day
How fast it goes
The day
The Mayfly
Both of those.
A Mayfly flies a single day
The daylight dies and darkness grows
A single day
How fast it flies
A Mayfly’s life
How fast it goes.


Nahalem Local Color

 A logging road often becomes the one and only artery to a piece of water that you know more than likely will bring you the biggest dividends. The repeated likelihood of siltation at certain times of the year create a gnawing anxiousness that is magnified when you look down on both sides of your truck and cannot see the dirt or gravel. Nahalem County Oregon holds many secrets or at least did when I lived there. Black bears unfortunately haunted the same woods I lurked quietly around in looking for coastal cutthroats. Some evenings my legs could not move fast enough when a nearby tree started shaking which is always terrifying to me.

It was on cool calm early evening that I was working my way back upstream in the Cascades. Earlier the same day I had seen a mountain goat dead on the side of the stream, maybe only a few days old. Hours later the carcass was gone when I came up on the same spot. I dismissed it for all of about ten seconds when across the river a medium sized Douglas fir started shaking like a molested houseplant. My boots were moving before my upper half was...cartoon-like. The clattering of my boots were noisy and awkward because I had just screwed in new sheet metal screws into the heels, and because the front screws had been worn down almost completely I was losing grip as I lunged from boulder to boulder. I did not dare look back until I was fifty or so yards away, when I eventually looked back there was a very emaciated mangy looking black bear probably about 400 or so pounds standing in the middle of the river. Many people do not realize these animals are not so cuddly looking when they happen upon them. They often smell really foul. I felt like a kind of human glazed doughnut that day in the eyes and nose of that bear. I was covered in fish slime after being out there for over eleven hours and smelled pretty rank with sweat. I’m sure he was a bit preoccupied with the goat but I was so scared I lost a box of flies that must have worked its way out of my vest. I have scared up coons, turkeys, pigs, and even hunters, but the sight of that tree shaking made the hair on the backof my head stand up.

Nahalem County locals are used to seeing elk and bears lurking about in the streets and trash bins. Sometimes when I woke up early in my little studio on the top floor of the Manzanita News Coffee House I would see elk towering over vehicles and hear the clacking of their hoofs down near the carport. These animals really were part of the local charm. I was walking to the video store one evening and took a quick detour down a side street because an elk was standing in the middle of the alley. The sheer mass of these animals are an intimidating sight. Armed only with a tattered copy of The Dirty Dozen video did not make me exactly a hostile looking contender. In my little world these animals were the neighborhood bully’s. I suppose this is Mother Natures way telling me “it’s your turn fish boy” after seemingly molesting countless cutthroat, and returning them to the river. Although molesting is a bit heavy handed, I like to think of it as an elaborate game of “tag... your it”. I miss my old neighbors dearly as well as my routine Cutthroat fishing.


Mechanized Versus Manual

After writing my entry called “Driven by Process” I received several e-mails in regards to “Production rods” and differences with hand planed rods. Another much discussed and heated topic among cane enthusiasts and makers. Quite simply a skilled craftsmen with a milling machine can put out a very fine rod that is very very accurate based on its given taper. A maker that uses simply a traditional block plane and a set of forms can also put out a very very accurate taper. Cosmetically speaking can you tell the difference? In many cases yes based on what is called “grain run-out”. Depending on the skill of the maker using the milling machine he is going to have a cutter running the length of the strip on the enamel side of the cane at some point. Some do not. Depending on their skill you may see grain run-out you may not. The question arises how deep is too deep when it comes to biting into the power fibers after the enamel is removed. Inevitably this will affect the performance of the taper based on the depth of the cut into the power fibers. If you look at the quintessential “production rods” of past eras using a Montague rod as an example you will see “grain run-out” on many of these rods. You will see what I call a lack of nodal contrast because the cutters feather the nodes out very wide into the top layer of the power fibers. In other words the cutters are set a wee bit too deep. Can you spot such a rod out in a line up of rod blanks? Yes, easily after a simple inspection. Does this affect the action of the rod? It would be very hard to make a sweeping generalization on this one. This is where the debate escalates. This again all depends on the skill of the craftsman and his level of skill using his chosen power tools.

I make rods in a more traditional manner so prior to tapering I address and dress nodes one by one. I do not “level a node” using a cutter I use a bastard file and press the nodes. Prior to final planing I remove the enamel side till the fibers “ghost” then make the final passes with my plane to achieve the final taper dimension on the two opposing surfaces of the strips. If the enamel is not removed prior to the final passes the tendency is “an over-built” final dimension. This methodology was practiced religiously by makers such as Vince Marinaro. Again there's many ways to skin a cat when it comes to the final planing process. Many makers have their own proven practices. Many work very well. Getting back to the original question what are the differences in “production (milled) rods” and hand planed rods? There are noticeably differences cosmetically and to some degree quality depending on the skill of the craftsman using either a milling machine or block plane.  
Be observant, open minded, and cast a lot of different rods constructed using different processes and you can decipher some of the fine nuances within this fascinating craft.
                                  ~Clint Bova


“Johnny Logan” 7' 4wt. 2pc.

 A nice Brown caught this season during 
the Trico hatch August 2010 on the “Johnny Logan” 7' 4wt.

I recently had an inquiry about this particular rod and I thought I would elaborate a little on it. I started developing this taper back in 2004 specifically for tight stream situations and tiny fly's. It has served me well over the years as a frequently used rod throughout the season. It also is one of my more popular selling rods. I also use it as a go-to rod for Trico hatches and midging. It has a very smooth “true” 4wt. action. It loads great for in close casts and out to the 40 foot mark. It is definitely a rod that I use for smaller drys for fussy Browns. The picture above is a Brown caught on a #22 Trico using the “Johnny Logan” at about 5:30 am in the morning. When the Trico hatch is on this rod pulls through for me every time. I have a few PA clients that love fishing this rod on the Letort and Penn's Creek for the same reasons I do. The rod casts like a gem and puts the fly exactly where you want it... in front of big fussy Brown Trout very delicately.

 Early morning Trico entanglements with a lot of 
slurping noises in the background. Picture taken 
same morning as above photo.