Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chew on This!

Saw this on the Wavewalk website, and I really think it hits the nail on the head regarding the "kayak fishing phenomenon" and it's ebb, and flow over the past decade, and its likely future. I remain of the opinion, one I have blogged about before, that for fly fishers, and all fishers, of all ages and sizes, this boat is the best overall human-powered craft on the planet. I own one and love mine, and want to share it with others who, like me, have been otherwise frustrated and ultimately disappointed with kayak fishing. The W500 is waiting to be discovered by the fly fishing masses! Check it out!

WAVEWALK FISHING KAYAKS Fishing kayaks for kayak anglers looking for the perfect kayak fishing experience

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well..I did it. Yesterday (Sat. Jan 22) I made the four hour drive to the fly fishing show in Somerset, NJ. Left the house a tad before 5 am and walked in the door of the exhibition hall at 8:50 am. And am I glad I did! Just as I had been told by some of the exhibitors at Marlboro, the vibe in the hall was palpable. More people, more buzz, and virtually all the best known brands and names in the industry, Jersey is now generally acknowledged as the largest fly fishing-only show in the world. It took the entire day, but I think I covered every booth on the floor, and squeezed in three seminars, two featured fly tying presentations, and a casting demonstration by the inimitable Lefty Kreh. The crowd was 6 people deep surrounding the casting pool, but I was able to get close enough to get a couple of pictures. Just three weeks shy of his 86th birthday, the world reknowned fly fishing legend was in classic form as he imparted nuggets of wisdom from his more than 50 years as an outdoor writer, fly inventor (Lefty's Deceiver), rod designer, author, fly casting innovator/teacher, and, I might add, entertainer! What sets Lefty apart from his elite peers, is his effervescent personality. Beyond his unparalleled knowledge and experience, people flock to him to bask in the genuine warmth of his personna, and to smile and laugh at his quips and anecdotes until their faces hurt, all while learning something that can really help them be better flycasters and fly fishers. I have seen Lefty several times over the last 25 years, and he was every bit as vital and animated yesterday as I have ever seen him. I don't think anyone involved in flyfishing would disagree, that no one person has done more to advance the sport, and in the most delightful way, than Bernard Victor Kreh.

In the realm of fly design, the creator of arguably the most widely fished and tied fly on the planet, is Bob Clouser. Bob was also in attendance in Jersey, and gave a tying demonstration of his classic Clouser Minnow, showing in great detail all the nuanced elements that are part of tying this versatile pattern correctly. I won't list all the talking points, but the first thing Bob pointed out was the most common mistake he sees in Clousers tied by others. All too often, the weighted eyes are tied in too far forward, i.e. too close to the hook eye. The correct placement is at a point one third of the total length of the hook (measured from the front of the eye to the back of the bend) back from the eye. Also, I gotta tell ya, Bob is no slouch in the entertainment department either. I was priviledged to be in the room to see and hear Bob and Lefty trade quips and laughs with each other for most of a half hour. The two are long time friends and fishing partners and had everyone in stitches as they held court in the Featured Fly Tiers room at the show. Truth be told, another reason I chose to make the trip to NJ is that these guys haven't been to the Marlboro show in years, and they are not getting any younger. Their influence on our collective fly fishing lives and the industry that serves us is deep and wide, and will continue to be, long after they are gone from the scene. It was a thrill to once again get close to them and to draw upon their expertise and generosity. I hope I get the chance to do it again.

There were so many other highlights for me at the show too. I own and fish TFO flyrods, so I spent some time at their booth, as I did in Marlboro. The difference at Somerset was that, save for Flip Pallot, I think their entire pro staff, including Lefty and Bob, were in the booth at one time or another, as was company founder and president Rick Pope. Rick was gracious enough to spend a good fifteen minutes of one on one time with me in a give and take over the new BVK rod series. In the process, he shared some great insights on rod building and design, along with some tidbits about how Lefty and Flip collaborated on the BVKs. He broke down, in great detail, the differences in their casting styles and corresponding preferences in rod characteristics and performance, and how those elements were blended to arrive at the final product. Fascinating stuff. I also drifted back and forth between the Hatch Reels booth and the Nautilus Reels booth and had nice conversations with both Jesus Marmol of Nautilus, and Hatch company president and CEO John Torok. I very much like both manufacturers' line of products, and when I am ready to pull the trigger on a new reel, these two makes will be at the top of the list. By the way, neither was at Marlboro. Nor was Sage, G Loomis, and a number of other well known equipment manufacturers. I was also intrigued, as were a number of other attendees, by a new reel manufacturer from my home state of MA called Cheeky Flyfishing . Company rep Ted Upton took the time to show me some prototypes of these incredibly light-weight, but seemingly durable machined annodized aluminum reels that will be available in six or seven colors. Customers can mix and match different color reel housings, spools, and reel feet for a personalized, and, may I say, aesthetically pleasing array of combinations. They hope to roll out their full line of sealed drag reels in sizes that will handle everything from trout to tuna sometime in the very early spring. Check 'em out.

All in all, I got enough extra out of the Jersey show as compared to Marlboro to warrant another trip down next year. It helps that I have a daughter in the NYC area who allowed me to crash at her place for the night after the show, thereby avoiding the marathon of driving down and back home the same day, or, in the alternative, having to shell out $180 for a hotel room. I'll wrap up this post by mentioning that the thermometer bottomed out at 12 degrees below zero this am (it is now Mon.) here in central Massachusetts. My scheduled trips to Florida in mid March and late April cannot come soon enough!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Feathers 'n Flash

The fly fishing shows feature so many gifted fly tiers that it is hard for a relative hack like me not to walk away just shaking my head in awe of the knowledge, creativity, skill, and pure talent on display. Sure, I can sit at my vise and wrap thread around some fibers, some flash and a hook that will, on occasion, hold together long enough to actually catch a few fish. But these guys are in a whole different league. Their mastery of materials management, technique, and efficiency, and their in-depth knowledge of natural hair and feathers and how to choose the best quality of each for any application just blows me away. All are impressive. But some are more entertaining than others, and, after all, shows, by definition, are supposed to entertain. Dave Skok, beyond his obvious talent as a tier, is most certainly entertaining.

Dave is widely known in the fly fishing world as an innovative and gifted fly tier, photographer, and writer. His flies are in demand all over the country because they are the epitome of functional art, i.e., they are uniquely beautiful creations, and, they catch fish. As mentioned in the previous post, I spent a good deal of time watching Dave at the Marlboro show, and it's easy to see his talent. What was more interesting and more revealing, was listening to him talk as he tied. Mind you, this is a fellow almost a full generation younger than I am. What struck me was his self-confidence (he knows he's good at what he does) tempered by a comfort in his own skin, and, despite the notoriety and the accolades he has earned, his obvious awareness that the fly fishing/photography/writing schtick is what he does, not who he is. Also in evidence was a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor, and, a passion for the fish that are, after all, the source of great joy (and, in Dave's case, a roof over his head and a warm place to go to the bathroom) for all of us who pursue them with fly rods.

On the fish, specifically, striped bass, I was privy to a conversation Dave was having with two colleagues as the show was about to close for the day about the state of the fishery here in the northeast. The news is not good. Anyone who has fly rodded for stripers in New England the past few years can confirm it. While I don't know the scientific units of measure these numbers represent, or even if they are entirely accurate, if true, they illustrate the dramatic decline of the striper population. The last decent striped bass year class index numbers were from 2003 and measured in the 25 to 30 range. By contrast, back in the abundant striper years of the early to mid 1990's, these same numbers were typically in the vicinity of 100! From 2003 to now, the number has averaged around 6! Striped bass are not reproducing at rates that can sustain the fishery. That's scary. The reasons for this are complex but no doubt include the over harvesting of baitfish, particularly, menhaden, the commercial harvest of wild striped bass, pollution and the resultant degradation of habitat in the Chesapeake Bay area, fungal disease, and the lack of consistent and coordinated science-based management of the fishery throughout the range of stripers from the Carolinas to the Canadian maritimes. All who love to fish for stripers need to tune into this issue. Mother Nature is incredibly resilient, but not necessarily in the short term, i.e. within the span of our fishing lives. We humans have got to be smarter than we have been heretofore when it comes to safeguarding this incredible resource. A lot of money, a lot of livelihoods, and, most importantly, a source of immeasurable passion and joy, may otherwise be lost.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marlboro, MA Fly Fishing Show

Spent a full day at theMarlboro show yesterday. As always, it was a welcome boost to the spirit in the dead of winter to stroll amongst the collection of new rods, reels, fly lines, outerwear, fly tying paraphernalia, and literature. Though I have never been, I am told the Somerset NJ show dwarfs this one, as many vendors/exhibitors choose to do Jersey as the one show they do in the Northeast, owing to its proximity to so many more population centers within a relatively small radius. Attendance figures for Somerset would seem to justify bypassing Marlboro if you had to choose between them. I am contemplating making the trip to attend Somerset this year to see it for myself, but I still go to Marlboro each year. It's a short ride from home and is the first chance for me to actually get to hold some of the newest gear in my hands and fondle to my heart's content, most items on my wish list. I spent the most "quality time" this year with the new Tibor Signature Series reel at the Bears Den booth, and with the new TFO BVK Series 8wt fly rod at the TFO booth and also at the indoor casting pond. While it is admittedly presumptuous to judge any product after one "date", I can at least offer some valid first impressions.

The Tibor is a beautifully crafted American made piece of work in keeping with the company's well earned reputation for quality and durability. It is decidedly lighter in hand than the traditional Tibors of comparable size, with ported housing and spool, yet feels solid and smooth. One of the features is a constant slight resistance even with the drag backed off completely to prevent over-running the spool when stripping off line. The drag is sealed and requires little or no maintenance, and the spool is easily removed while retaining the loosening knob. If money was no object, (but it almost always is!) this reel would be a fine addition to my arsenal of flyfishing tools. But in terms of value, at a retail price just south of $800, it is hard to justify. I know that part of that price reflects American labor earning a living wage with benefits, and for some, including me, that is a real consideration. But there are other very good quality reels made in the good old USA that cost hundreds less. The ones made by Hatch come to mind. The Hatch line of fly reels are not cheap either, at $500-$700 in the saltwater sizes, but are a better value IMHO.

At a retail $249, The TFO BVK (Bernard Victor Kreh) 8wt rod is an excellent value. I spent a good 15 minutes casting an 8wt floating line with it and this stick has an excellent feel. Decidedly a fast action taper, but with enough tip flex for more delicate tosses. It is truly a featherweight for an 8wt coming in at a whispy 3.2 ounces, whereas by comparison, my TFO Axiom 6wt, my current favorite rod, weighs 5.3 ounces. The BVKs feature two REC recoil stripping guides, which, from an aesthetic standpoint, don't do much for me, but the rod blanks are a handsome olive color. I would give this rod a serious look but for two small gripes: 1) the stripping guides are seriously undersized, and 2) the fighting butt is too small. The BVK 9wt is appropriately built with properly sized guides and fighting butt. Put the same components on the 8 and I'll buy one. Undersized stripping guides are not so much a consideration for measured, 30 to 50 foot casts in sight fishing situations. But for longer casts aimed at covering water where generated line speeds are quite high and the line is released by the stripping hand on the 2nd haul, the line could more easily find its way around, rather than through the small guides and snag, robbing distance or totally collapsing the cast.

The undersized stripping guides are a trend I have noticed with several flyrod manufacterers the past few years. My guess is it relates to the preoccupation with ever lighter flyrods which have drawn good consumer response. The small butt on the BVK 8 was definitely to save weight because it even looks two sizes too small. To me, the over-emphasis on light weight is misplaced by the manufacterers. 2 ounces in rod weight is not the reason for fatigue on a typical flyfishing outing. IMHO, the more likely reason is an unbalanced rod/reel combination, and/or a breakdown in casting mechanics from battling wind or weather. The other potential trade-off with the new featherweight slim rod tapers, notwithstanding the very good warranty program, is breakage due to being excessively brittle. TFO has tested the BVKs in the lab and on the water and are confident in their design. They probably are right but only time will tell.

And then, there were the many elite fly tiers at the show. This year, I spent a considerable amount of time time watching Dave Skok at his vice, and also at his "5 Essentials on the Fly"presentation. More on Dave in the next post.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

'Tis the Season!

No....not THAT season...the holidays are over! I'm talking about the few sources of emotional warmth and light available to all those "Waiting to Flyfish" during these cold, snowy, endless weeks of short days and long dark nights. I'm talking about the Fly Fishing Show season!

Each year during the months of January and February here in the Northeast, the salvation of our flyfishing souls can be found by attending one or more of these 3-day (Friday-Sunday) commercial gatherings of fly fishing tackle manufacturers and vendors, outfitters, fly tiers, authors, and rock stars of the fly fishing industry. We can all come together to attend dozens of seminars, fly casting and fly tying clinics, and exotic fly fishing destination presentations, drool at all the new gear, chat, lie, laugh, share, and otherwise hobnob with our brother (and sister) wielders of the long wand. The Marlboro, MA show kicks off the season on MLK weekend in mid January, followed by the HUGE show in Somerset, NJ the following weekend. More info at Mid February brings the annual one day show/extravaganza hosted by Bears Den flyshop at the Holiday Inn just off Exit 9 on Rte 495 in Taunton, MA, which includes a showing of the annual "Fly Fishing Film Tour", an outstanding collection of fish porn produced by flyfishing film makers from all across the country sponsored by several of the heavy hitters in the industry.

Granted, some of the presentations don't change much from year to year at the 3 day events, but every year truly does bring at least something new, and I, for one, look forward to visiting all the booths at these shows, working my way systematically from one end of the exibition halls to the other. I find that watching the elite fly tiers ply their craft always reveals a trick or two I can use in my own efforts at the vise. Even though I have been fly casting for more than 20 years, the casting demonstrations always yield some useful information that finds its way into my toolshed of skills, or reinforces some of the fundamentals of casting and presentation that make me a better fisherman. And who doesn't love to sit in a darkened room and watch a film or narrated slide show of some warm, tropical paradise, with palm trees, deep blue skies, and white sand flats teeming with bonefish or tarpon on a cold January afternoon?

This year, I'm trying to put together something that will add a new element of excitement and enjoyment for me, and possibly, for all of you who may be thinking of attending one or more of these shows. I'm not sure what, if anything, will come of my work on this, but I will post something on that in the very near future. Do check back within a week or so!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hiatus Over!

Hello all! No...I have not fallen off the face of the earth, but the last couple of months have been taken up with a death in the family, my son's (the third and final child) graduation from college, and other various responsibilities and distractions. Now that I have made the last tuition payment I will ever have to make for the remainder of my natural life, new opportunities to fly fish in the salt from shore and from the W500, will be hopefully forthcoming. It's been a hot summer up here in MA, and the stripers are sulking in the deep, cool, offshore waters during the now dwindling daylight hours. Bluefish are still obliging whilst the sun is high, and I hope to try for false albacore from the W when they show within the next couple of weeks. I also want to try taking some video and posting it here for your, and my, viewing pleasure, if I deem the footage worthy of sharing. Bear with me....there will be more to come soon!

Friday, July 2, 2010

What Was I Thinking!?

A word of warning here.....this post is going to get deep into the weeds regarding my thought processes in devising a fly fishing rigging system for the W500 kayak. There is a lot of detail that some might find tedious, but if you're a rigging freak, as I seem to be, you might get something out of it. Very well, then, you've been warned!!

To start with, it's important to know that the ratio of time spent thinking about rigging a kayak for fly fishing versus the time spent actually installing the rigging is something on the order of 100 to 1! No, really! During the process, I found myself just standing in front of the boat and staring at it for 15 minutes at a time, just "letting the wheels turn". And that is how it should be. The worst thing you can do to a brand spanking new paddle craft is to start drilling holes in it willy-nilly based on some vague notion or ill-considered assumptions you may have about what you "need" to comfortably and efficiently fly fish from it, only to find out once you're on the water that you really didn't have a clue what you needed or didn't need! "Curb your enthusiasm" and resist the urge to immediately rig up when getting a kayak for the first time or acquiring a new one to replace or supplement an old one. Take some time on the water, over several outings, to fish out of your new paddle craft before you assume anything. Trust me, after a few sessions , it will become readily apparent to you what issues need addressing. Then, and ONLY then, can you even begin to think intelligently about just how to address them.

I have been fly fishing saltwater for 20 years, but in the span of all that time, probably only a couple of dozen days out of a kayak. Even though I owned an earlier version of the W (the W300) for two years before getting the new W500, when I started to think about how to rig the new boat for saltwater flyfishing, I really didn't have a grand plan, but was more oriented toward solving a couple of challenges I had experienced during my first few outings with it out on the near-shore waters of Cape Cod Bay, coupled with my experience with the rigging installed on the old W300. Standing and paddling the W has never been an issue, as the design of this fine craft, especially the new W500 model, makes these things so easy that they immediately become second nature, and fade from conscious consideration, leaving all thoughts and senses free to focus on spotting fish and executing casts that are fast and accurate. In a nutshell, this is what makes the W the superb fishing platform that it is. My boat, which I ordered in the "T" or touring model, comes with no rod holders or fishing set up of any kind, What it does come with, is foam flotation in the four hull tips, and, the cockpit and deck rigging option, which Wavewalk describes as a "preparation for a cockpit cover" and consists of a length of shock cord, or bungee, strung around the outside of the rim of the cockpit under inverted "J" hooks, as well as several sets of riveted rigging loops. The boat is inherently flyline friendly as the cockpit rim and the saddle-style seat feature graceful curves and rounded edges. The coils slide freely over the curves and slip down gently on one side of the saddle or the other into the hulls as I strip the line in. If the wind is up, the line is protected down in the hulls and stays put.

The first problem that needed to be addressed was how to safely and efficiently carry the rod-reel-line combinations I might need on any particular outing. I own 6 wt., 8 wt, and 10 wt. outfits which cover the entire spectrum of fish I target as well as the conditions I am likely to encounter on the waters in which they swim. It is rare when I will need all three on the same trip, but then, it is better to have the proper tackle along and not need it, than need it and not have it. So I needed to be able to easily carry a minimum of 2 rigged and ready outfits, and possibly a third. I had devised a fairly workable set-up on my W300 a couple of years ago, and rather than reinvent the wheel, it made sense to build on that approach, where I used a pair of rubber paddle clips to carry a single rod, secured by small bungees through the rigging eyes just above where the the clips were mounted. That rig worked ok, but retrieving the rod from the holder was a two step process that involved undoing the bungees on each end, requiring me to slide or step from one end of the boat to the other. Plus, as I discovered one day as I drifted toward the exposed bank of a salt marsh creek at low tide while playing a hooked striper, the rod tip of my second rod in the holder was vulnerable to damage or breakage should wind, or current, or a fish, carry me into the bank before I could grab the paddle and make an adjustment. In areas like SW Florida, narrow mangrove tunnel creeks, save for ceiling fans and screen doors, are where fly rod tips go to die. So, taking my inspiration from the rod tip tubes built into most flats skiffs, I came up with the idea of using 24 inch sections of inch and a quarter pvc pipe to replace the forward paddle clip on the original set-up. I secured these near the top of the sides on the outside of each hull toward the bow using a pair of non-corrosive plastic brackets sized to fit the pipe spaced 18 inches apart. Two one inch self-drilling screws with rubber washers per bracket, sized to fit the bracket holes, secures each snugly to the hull. To prevent the tubes from sliding in the brackets I used a zip-tie just outside of each bracket snugged up tight to the tube. Now, with one hand, I can undo the bungee holding the rod handle to the rubber paddle clip, grab the rod and slide it out of the tip tube. Sliding the rod I'm switching from back in is just as easy. In all but the roughest water, the rod handle rides snugly in the paddle clip even without the bungee, allowing me to be even faster on the draw! Two fly rod rigs, one on each side of the kayak, secure and protected, conveniently stowed and readily accessible, with the option of a third rod in use or at the ready in the cockpit! Problem #1 solved!

Problem #2 While paddling and scouting for fish, whether sitting or standing, I needed to figure out: a) how and where to place a rigged fly rod securely at rest in the cockpit, even in windy or choppy conditions, within easy reach, and ready to cast with several feet of fly line stripped off the reel and neatly coiled down in the bottom of one or both of the hulls, and b) where to safely stick the fly where it wouldn't dangle around with the hook point exposed, or tangle in the fly line. This was a tough one and proved to be the most difficult to design a practical solution for. What I finally came up with, after several iterations, still isn't perfect, but works fairly well most of the time. I bought a 12 inch long by 4 inch square foam block with a shallow beveled notch on one face, designed and usually sold in paired sets to use as cartop pads upon which to transport a canoe or kayak. These come with a slit and 3/4 inch circular cut-out running the length of the non-skid underside of the block, designed to snugly fit over the cross members of a standard roof rack. As it happens, the 6 foot long saddle in the W500 is segmented by 3/4 inch wide slots 6 inches on center. (saddle doubles as an integral fish ruler). By cutting a 10 inch by 2 inch piece of 3/4 inch plywood and wedging it one inch deep into the slot just forward of the boat's center station, I found that I could slide the foam block down onto the one inch by 10 inch exposed part of the plywood, where the whole thing sat firmly together with the non-skid bottom of the block flush with the surface of the saddle seat. I can rest the rod handle centered on the beveled notch on top of the block with the reel off to one side or the other. I cut a shallow slit in the bottom of the bevel notch to pinch the fly line in place and prevent the coils from snaking back out through the guides. The hook of the fly is then safely stuck into the side of the foam block to immobilize it until it is time to cast. The rod tip is pointed directly forward between the hulls and the butt section of the rod near the first stripping guide, rests at the forward edge of the cockpit rim in a notch formed by a small bungee looped around a bailing sponge, sold specifically for mopping up paddle drips and spray that may accumulate in the hull from time to time. I have water tested this configuration and can confirm that the rod is indeed stable in its resting "cradle" and stays put even in a stiff (20-25mph) wind and a 2 to 3 foot chop. Problem #2 solved!

Problem #3 When I am paddling along and suddenly sight some fish, how do I quickly, smoothly, quietly, and efficiently transition from paddling to casting. The essential element that enables this transition is a secure place and an efficient system to quickly, and I mean within 2 or 3 seconds, stow the paddle where it is out of the way of the cockpit rod and fly line, because 5 seconds after that, the 30 to 60 foot cast should already have been made and the fly should be in the water within 2 or 3 feet of its intended target. If that sounds difficult, that's because it is, and it has to be practiced until you can go from paddling to stripping within that 5 to 8 second window without thinking, in order to be consistently successful. Furthermore, this skill is extremely perishable unless employed or practiced on a regular basis, something most of us cannot do unless we happen to be professional fishing guides, divorced, independently wealthy, or retired with an understanding spouse! Since I am none of these, I offer up myself as humble evidence of how quickly this ability can degrade, as I struggle for part, or sometimes all of each outing to rediscover the rhythm of this process. Consequently, I am only intermittently successful (some would say lucky) in my fly fishing endeavors, but I sure do enjoy the hell out of it! But I digress.

What I eventually came up with to be able to quickly and securely stow the paddle made use of the existing factory cockpit rigging that came on the boat, and employed 4 pieces of hardware known as "lacing posts" that I found on-line. These are made of nylon and are each mounted with a single screw through the center. The 1/2 inch tall posts are a squat hourglass shape in profile and are designed to accept up to 1/4 inch shock cord around the narrow central hub through which the mounting screw passes. The shock cord or bungee is held securely in place by the flared top and bottom of the post. The idea was to use the bungee around the cockpit to loop up and over the paddle shaft and hook it around a pair of these lacing posts mounted on the top edge of the cockpit rim about an inch on center either side of the midpoint of the boat's overall length. This set-up allows me to both stow and retrieve the paddle quickly, using only one hand. Pretty slick. I wanted to have the option of stowing the paddle on either side of the W, so an identically placed set of 2 lacing posts was installed on the opposite side of the cockpit rim as well. Why not use just one post to hold the loop over the paddle shaft on each side, you ask? Well, I tried that in a trial set-up on my older W300 and found that it took a second or two longer and more manipulation with thumb and forefinger to confidently seat the bungee around just one post. Plus, the two sets of posts allow me to set the paddle down across the rim of the cockpit between them where it rests securely enough for quick casts or adjustments on the water without having to employ the bungee itself, particularly if I rest my knees up against the paddle shaft. Problem #3 solved!

Problem #4 Anchoring. Since I either fish or traverse water that is generally anywhere from 2 to 20 feet deep in my home waters of Cape Cod, and since, if I had to guess, the average depth of the water I fish over 90% of the time in the course of a year averages 3 to 8 feet, I have opted to use a conventional 3 pound kayak anchor and @ 30 feet of anchor line to hold the boat in a desired position when needed. The anchor holds reasonably well most of the time, but takes time to deploy and to periodically readjust if need be. Last March, I was introduced to Stick It Anchor Pins on a guided paddle fly fishing charter with Dave Loger in Placida, Florida. Dave favors the 7 foot model for overall versatility. What impressed me about this product was the simple, durable design, and the speed and ease of using it, particularly in shallow water, i.e. 1 to 4 feet deep. I came away from that trip knowing that, at some point I would likely be ordering a Stick It to use on my own kayak. So when I started working on the fly fishing rigging for the W500, I ordered the pin in the 7 foot configuration to have it in hand so as to be able to devise how to carry and store it on the boat, and also how to best employ the product in ways specific to the unique Wavewalk design.

Carrying and stowing the Stick It on board the boat was essentially solved when I came up with the rigging to carry the fly rods and the paddle. As it turns out, the 7 foot Stick It fits perfectly in either side mounted rod holder with the pointed end protected in the rod tube and the "T" handle end snugly wedged into the rubber paddle clip that normally holds the fly rod handle. Alternatively, if I choose to carry rods in both rod holders, the Stick It can be carried just like the paddle, using the cockpit bungee to loop it to the set of two lacing posts on the opposite rim. In terms of deploying the pin at anchor, I fashioned a 30 inch homemade lanyard with a loop on one end and a small S style carbiner on the other to clip to any one of the boat's rigging eyes. The pin can be inserted through the lanyard loop, stuck into the bottom, and secured to the kayak with the carbiner. I clipped two more large S style carbiners on the front rigging loop eyes through which the pin can be inserted to anchor off the front of the boat between the hulls. On the rear of the W500, I crossed the bitter ends of the cockpit rim bungee, stretched them back and hooked them to the rigging eye loops on the opposite outside of the rear hulls. This creates an area between the rear hulls that I can just stick the anchor pin between the crossed and stretched cockpit bungee cord and anchor the boat from the rear end. Scratch problem #4!!

As a reminder, you can view pictures of any and/or all of these rigging ideas for the W500 on the slide show posted below. I hope this essay on the thinking behind the rigging was useful, albeit a bit long-winded. All this stuff has been crowding the available memory space in my cranium for weeks now. If nothing else, I hope it elicits some feedback and comments. Either way, I feel better for purging!