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Archive for Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fly fishing affordable angling alternative

July 8, 2007

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Many think fly fishing is a sport that's expensive and complicated. Others think that it has no use in Kansas.

To them I say "Wrong. Wrong and oh so way wrong."

A complete fly-fishing setup can cost less than a fancy bass rod. Using it needn't be more complicated than spring crappie fishing.

And Kansas offers some outstanding fly fishing.

To help prove the positive points I picked the brains of some avid Kansas fly fishers.

We picked a ready-to-hit-the-water fly-fishing outfit that holds all you need to enjoy fly fishing in Kansas. We also put it to the test.

Fly rod

About all the experts agreed on the rod, which is the cornerstone of most fly fishing outfits.

The Temple Fork Series One sells for $89-$100 but it throws as well as many rods three times the price. It's a rod beginners can handle and continue to enjoy as their skills build. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.

We went with a ready-to-fish kit from Lawrence-based Yager's Flies at www.yagersflies.com. Their price of $175 contains the Temple Fork and a nice reel already spooled with fly line. It also had a savings of about $30 compared to the components bought separately.

A five-weight rod is a good pick for all-around Kansas fishing. It's light enough to make catching panfish a blast and can handle sizable bass flies. It would also work well for trout fishing.

A nine-foot, four-piece rod is ideal for casting yet easily stored.

Fly reel

The Yager's package comes with a Ross Flystart which is of decent quality. Bought separately, it would cost between $39-$45. The Okuma Sierra is a good reel at a similar price.

Honestly, for most Kansas fly fishing, a fly reel is just something that holds the line and gives you a way to gather it quickly. At that price you don't get much of a drag system but one's not normally needed unless you're fly fishing for wipers or carp.

The Flystart or Sierra are fine for most trout, too.

Fly line

The Yager's combo comes with Scientific Anglers Concept Fly Line. Bought separately it runs about $30.

It's a simple, weight-forward floating line that's easy to cast and will handle 95 percent of what's needed in Kansas waters and trout streams. Be sure to match line and rod weight. Comparable lines are available at stores with Temple Fork rods.

Leader and tippet

The pick was a six-foot leader that tapers to an eight-pound-test tip. A small spool of about 7.5-pound tippet lets you lengthen the leader to a desired length. Seven or eight feet of leader/tippet is usually fine for Kansas. Longer leader and lighter tippet is best for trout.

Flies

"Matching the hatch" for trout flies can be tough. Picking flies for Kansas is not. We went with 30 flies of eight styles, which was probably over-kill. Flies are $.89 when you buy 12 or more.

Woolly buggers - The most versatile and popular of sub-surface flies, woolly buggers imitate everything from minnows and insects to crayfish.

Poppers - Top-water fishing for bass with a fly-rod is a blast. The strikes are exciting and fish acrobatic. Other top-water flies included three No. 10 foam spiders for days when the bluegill don't take poppers. I also got two No. 10 foam frogs because they'll cast easier in the wind than the poppers.

The test

I took Neal Hall, a local custom rod builder and past president of Custom Rod Builders Guild, to a friend's Harvey County pond. He caught a nice bass on his 10th cast with a No. 6 green popper and labeled the rod/reel/line combination as "really wonderful."

We then climbed into a canoe, Hall fishing one of his custom outfits worth more than $650 while I used the picked setup. The Temple Fork rod was indeed impressive and easily made 50 foot casts.

The 89-cent poppers drew as many strikes as Hall's much more expensive deer hair bugs. The fishing was easy and fantastic. We had something like 14 hooked bass on our first 15 casts in the garage-sized bay.

We probably totaled 40 fish.

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