The 7'9" Isaac Zane The Ultimate Prospecting Rod

 above & below: A just completed  7'9" Isaac Zane 
for Nathan Hale of Colorado Springs CO.
(click photos to enlarge)

{7’9” 5wt. “Isaac Zane”} This has become my favorite go-to rod for new river prospecting. I’ve fished this taper for many years over a wide variety of rivers primarily because of it’s diverse casting range. 

A delicate combination of clear wraps and black or red tipping with a down locking domed cap and ring reel seat. A subtle tapered swelled butt is eye catching above the grade A cork grip. This rod may also be ordered with a down sliding cap and ring set or threaded barrel set. Blued or polished nickel hardware and a hand rubbed curly Koa or walnut burl reel seat make this rod very pleasing to the eye.

This rod is a great throughout the season go anywhere rod. All Signature Rods come with a milled nickel finial style ferrule plug. Each rod is hand rubbed and polished then fitted with a cashmere rod bag. The Signature Rods all come with a double brass capped heavy walled aluminum rod case.


The Mark of Detail

Turning a tiered winding check for 
a new “Trails End” 7' 4wt.
If you've ever seen a model 1873 Colt .45 Peacemaker from the barrel to the grip all of the elements of the hardware have a definitive cadence. The craftsmanship when it comes to the original intent of the firearm from function to form is unwavering. I often use the term “Mr. Potato Head” when I look at a fly rod, firearm, automobile, etc... that have both features and functions that are unintentional adaptations and lack harmony. Unlike the Colt .45 Peacemaker, the result is a product that has no sense of place or point of view. 

When I was 26 years old I was called out of class at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena CA and driven out to San Bernardino to meet the engineers and designers at Saturn (prior to the brand launch in the marketplace) they were unveiling their vehicles for the first time in a large auditorium. I was 1 out of 8 other designers pulled from ACCD to critique the new Saturn vehicles. After a highly descriptive crit from a transportation designer sitting next to me it was now my turn and around 300 people including video cameras were focused on me. The car designers were sitting behind me, which made me a bit apprehensive. I simply stated that the 7 shiny prototypes that sat in front of me “had no sense of place, they were an amalgam of many vehicles which reminded me of a series of Mr. Potato Heads, they could be from anywhere, and from several different manufacturers”. At this point I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was one of the car designers leaning forward and he whispered that I was “very perceptive in my point of view”. I was then asked to leave. On my way out of the auditorium one of the Saturn designers came running out from behind me and shook my hand and told me that they had in fact had created a series of vehicles that were very much like a family of Mr. Potato heads.

Finished tiered winding check to complement the 
“Trails End ” butt cap as well as cork check
Often I see bamboo fly rods that are an amalgam of factory made grips, spacers, nickel hardware, etc...I feel that if somebody is going to pay a lot of money for a fly rod they should not be getting a Saturn. Instead they should be getting the recognizable and intentional marks of its given craftsman. A definitive geometry should give the artifact a sense of place and reason to be.

Every piece of hardware has to sing in tandem with it’s given rod. It’s kind of like putting a pair of dragon fly wings on a mayfly, some things have to be created as a single thought in order to fly right.
                ~Clint Joseph Bova


Tiemco 531 Part 2

 I wanted to do a second followup post on the TMC 531. In my original post I spoke briefly about the merits of the 531. I also mentioned to be mindful of the fine wire on this hook and that care must be taken with larger fish. The photo below shows a recent 18" brown taken on a TMC 531 #16. Noticeably the following photo of the actual fly the trout was taken on shows the hook bent to about the 4 or 5 o'clock position. The hook still held the fish securely till landing. For picky large browns the venerable TMC 531 is a great choice.
above: A large Mad River brown taken on a #16 Biot Wing Caddis (BWC)
below: The fly it was taken on using a TMC 531, still in tact and held till landing the fish. Notice the the deformation of the hook gap.


“Tying Small” With The Tiemco 531

The world of dry fly hooks can be a mind numbing experience when considering all the choices worldwide. There are a lot of considerations when it comes to the specific pattern and hook. The geometry of the dry fly hook and uniform scale relative to the pattern is what I always think about. If your testing patterns constantly like I do it can keep you up at night. I have gotten in some mind numbing conversations with guides (typically Canadian) and weekend warriors alike. Over the years I have found a common ground with my tying tastes and given fishing circumstances. I typically “tie small” which means that the patterns tend to be somewhat sparse, compact, and often deceptively small. The Tiemco 531 is the hook I use to tie deceptively small. The 531 is the most effective hook I have ever used, and I have used it for years. I would say seventy percent of my dry flies are dressed on a TMC 531.

The 531 is a fine black wire hook with a slight barb. It is a short shank hook with a wide gape and the bite/throat is deep. The bend is very uniform compared to a standard dry fly hook such as the TMC 101. The eye is smaller than its same sized counter part and bears a less drastic angle. The 531's front length tapers gently into a extremely sharp point as seen below. The first time I tied with one of these hooks it was love at first sight. The first time I fished with it I was a complete convert and am till this day. The only pitfall with this hook is it is somewhat fine and I have bent these while fighting large fish but have never straightened one completely so care must be taken fighting the girthy Browns and Rainbows.
I have always felt that the TMC 531 is a better hook for my patterns than the TMC 101. Hypothetically if there was only one hook I was allowed to use it would be the 531 hands down.
Tying small takes some practice meaning that the short shank is not an obstacle, it is simply a mindful consideration when getting proportions worked out especially on Mayfly duns. All of my adult Caddis patterns are tied on the TMC 531 and dry emergers on the TMC 212Y. Both of these hooks are somewhat difficult to get here in the USA but are easily found in the UK and CZ. Noticeably these hooks float very well with its given dressing. Hook ups are very positive in my experience not to mention the very slight barb allows you to remove it by flicking it with your index finger.
I hoard these hooks primarily because they are hard to find! If they were readily available here in the US I would be able to sleep better at night and I would be less inclined to strip old flies down and salvage the hook. I suppose time will only tell but I am not holding my breath.
~Clint Joseph Bova

Keeping Cane Fly Rods Looking Like New

I have spent many years using a product by the name of Novus. Many years ago I wrote an article for The Planing Form news letter on this particular line of products. Novus cleaners and polishes will clean water spots, clear up minor scratches, and maintain a clear conditioned finish on your rod sections and wraps. Originally this product was used for keeping aircraft cockpit canopies clear and conditioned. Over the years it has proved itself in many different categories when it comes to cleaning and conditioning both plastics and certain finishes. Polyurethane, spar, spar polyurethane, and even tung oil finishes benefit greatly when combined with a regular cleaning regimen using the Novus line. Graphite rods also benefit when using this product for cleaning and conditioning purposes.

~For general cleaning halfway through the fishing season use the #2“Fine Scratch Remover” followed by the #1“Plastic Clean and Shine”. Rub the compounds in lightly using an old t-shirt scrap or a soft cotton sheet swatch. Let each coat dry for about 90 seconds and wipe clean. If you have hard water marks that have accumulated on wraps or on rod sections use a rooster quill, bone burnisher, or smoothed toothpick and very gently rub the spot. Tip section wraps typically get the white residue after a season of use on the foot of the guides. You will see a chalky residue powder from the water spot release from the surface. Just wipe clean and use the “Plastic Clean and Shine” #1 for the final rub down. The results are quite remarkable and will keep your heavily used rods looking like new.
above: “Johnny Logan” 7' 4wt. and a 18" Mad River Brown July 12 2016, over a decade of very heavy use this rod has been pampered using the Novus regimen for quite some time.

 The above picture is my own personal rod I made back in 2005 (same rod in first photo) and has been kept looking like new year after year. Over a decade later my trusty old 7' 4wt. “Johnny Logan” is still looking like new!

Hope this is helpful to all of you who have inquired about seasonal cleaning.
         ~Clint Joseph Bova


Detached Body Caddis with Biot Wing

Depending on where your fishing in the world odds are there will be a Caddis somewhere ready to land on the water. The variables of this prolific fly are seemingly limitless. Most of the Caddis coming off the water in my neck of the woods are a steely gray that leans towards a warm bronze color as seen in the above photo. These little guys are generally what you see throughout the summer months but vary depending exact hatch and month.

I tie a lot of detached body patterns using my own dyed micro chenille. The Caddis fly in a few of it's life stages lends itself to using a wide gap hook such as the Kamasan B160. In tandem with the detached body I use dyed biots for wing cases.

The Detached Body Caddis with Biot Wing (click below images to enlarge)

Thread: Veevus 14/0 Gray or Brown
Hook: Kamasan B160
Wing: Book matched dyed bronze gray biots (left feather biot, right feather biot orientation~ both biot ribs meet at top portion of wing case, concave around dtached body see below photos
Dubbing: Beaver Belly
Legs: Dyed duck flank
Abdomen: Dyed Chenille Gray or Tan/Brown
Underwing: Aero Wing Dry Fly
Hackle: Rooster cape Bronze Gray~ dyed Ritt Gray then over dyed Ritt Tan

The Dying Process:
I have always dyed my own materials simply because the color palettes of many materials at retail are very limited. Depending on where you live insect colors are very subtle and vary throughout the season so as a frustrated fly tyer I have always dyed my own materials.
The dying process is very very simple and I urge you to try it! Find an old coffee maker, some white vinegar, and some Veniards or Ritt dyes. The recipe is as follows:

~8 Cups hot water that has run through your coffee maker 150 degrees max heat ( use a thermometer)
~2 Tablespoons white vinegar, mix into hot water
~Add 1 tablespoon of liquid Ritt dye to hot water, match your color ways stir for 30 seconds
~Add your materials once water has reached 150 degrees F
~Test dye times and take notes as you experiment!
~Once you pull your materials out of the dye bath immediately soak in cold water for a minute or so, then use a hair dryer to thoroughly dry. 
The above photo shows micro chenille that has been dyed using the process as described. The lightest above chenille is the original light gray color. The other four gray versions run from a warm light gray, a deeper value warm gray, a bronze warm gray, then finally to a dark warm charcoal color. Often micro chenille that comes off of the card is kinked and matted, once it is dyed and blow dried it puffs up again and retains its original shape.
If you wish to learn a lot about dying and bleaching materials Read A.K. Best's book Dying and Bleaching Natural Fly-Tying Materials, a book I purchased in my younger years. A.K. taught me how to dye and bleach when e mail first was available and I was fortunate enough to have a pen pal in Colorado for quite some time. He often sent me feathers through the mail and turned me on to Coq de Leon in the mid 90's. I have a binder filled with all of our correspondence back in the early 90's. I highly recommend all of his books from this very giving man!

This is a very simple fly to tie, and it is a fly that I always carry in my fly box. Hope you enjoy tying the detached bodied caddis, happy fishing.
~Clint Joseph Bova