Thursday, July 23, 2009

Morton Salt

When one is having a bad day at what point should one simply call it quits, and try again the following day? I ask because no matter how bad my day may be I always seem to find a way to make it worse. This past Sunday was an average day that took a turn for the worse, and in doing so became a fine example of just how oblivious I am to those small omens and portents that tell more sensitive types to turn around, go home and crawl under the covers.

Before I continue ... a bit of a disclaimer. Generally, I try to avoid vulgar language when writing, which is odd because I've never hesitated to curse vigorously when I speak (one of a myriad of skills honed by my time as an infantry soldier). Sometimes though, swearing is necessary given a particular context. At those times, few other words will do. Here goes.

"Do it bitch! I fucking dare ya'. What's the matter bitch? Haven't got the balls?"

He was challenging me, that much was clear. That one beady, little duck eye said it all.

"Go ahead. Run me down in that P.O.S. family truckster. Maybe it'll make you feel more like a man."

He might have been suicidal. More likely he didn't even realize he was a duck. Either way, he was waddling his preen soaked derrier down the middle of the street, and taking his own sweet time about it. Frustrating? Yes it was, and especially so given that I hadn't been trout fishing in two weeks. I was desperate to be stripping a streamer or swinging a pair of nymphs. I needed to be knee deep in my favorite riffle, and that freaking duck was costing me time on the river. Normally, I wouldn't have been so worked up, but only moments earlier a baby fox had done the same. Moments before the fox it had been a goat. Yep. A goat. Clearly, nature was conspiring against me.

By the time the duck had moved aside I was in a flurry. I cursed continuously. Ben laughed nonstop, and seemed to enjoy my sputtering. My tirade lasted a full forty-five minutes, until we arrived on the banks of my favorite brook trout stream. Our plan was to fish for brookies during the heat of the day, and to quickly drive to the main river at dusk to see if there were any snouts breaking the surface.

The next two hours or so went well enough. We hopped from rock to rock (Ben hopped ... I kind of slid and shifted my girth between boulders), and caught a slew of fish on hoppers and stimulators. It was fun fishing for sure, and would have made for a perfect day if the sun hadn't been so hot and the water a touch lower. The day was looking up until we hiked back to the car.

Here again, a bit of a disclaimer. Politically, I'm an old school libertarian (get your hands off my wallet and your nose out of my business), but I'm a little more progressive when it comes to social issues. So, when I rounded a bend in the stream and saw two lesbians kissing and groping each other near one of my favorite pools, it wasn't my political sensibility that was offended. As the old adage goes, "To each his (or her) own." I was in Vermont after all.

The problem I had with the scene that appeared before me wasn't political nor was it philosophical. The issue I had was purely aesthetic. The women tonguing each other stream side were two of the most hideous creatures my eyes have ever beheld. One reminded me of Howard Stern, the other was a ringer for Dom Deluise, and they were locked in a passionate embrace that likely would have been consummated had I not stumbled through the creek bed. I pretended not to see them as they hastily arranged their clothing, and disappeared along the trailhead. The damage to my vision and my psyche, however, had already been done.

At this point I'm inclined to conclude my rant. Suffice to say the day did not improve. Ben served himself up as a feast for a hungry spider that had found its way inside his waders. My glasses were broken beyond repair. My waders were punctured, and my car developed an oil leak. I can't help but think it all has something to do with my childhood crush on the Morton Salt girl. "When it rains it pours."


Thursday, July 16, 2009


I'll get to the piscatorial point in a minute. For now, please just bear with me.

There are certain landmarks with which we are all familiar. Even if we haven't visited a particular monument, we can sometimes see it in the mind's eye. The Statue of Liberty, The Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument have all become part of the American lexicon. The landmarks with which we are most familiar, however, are usually a little more mundane. Oftentimes, these landmarks spell h-o-m-e.

Drive for twenty minutes in any direction from my house, and at some point you'll pass a Stewart's convenience store. You're likely to drive by several, and you're almost certain to stop by one at least. In much of upstate New York and southern Vermont, Stewart's shops are community gathering places and town centers. In my neck of the woods, Stewart's means home.

At least once in any given day, most folks will run down to Stewart's (even when driving uphill or otherwise moving laterally people will insist they're going down to Stewart's). While there they'll pick up a gallon of milk, look over a newspaper (while subtly glancing at the cover of Penthouse), pour a cup of coffee, and purchase a lottery ticket. Before walking out the door they might give the cork board a once-over. There they'll find all manner of memos and flyers: advertisements for garage sales, information on book clubs, sewing circles and pancake breakfasts, a flyer for a firehouse fundraiser, and the ever-present notice of a missing pet.

On one such cork-board, in one particular Stewart's shop, hangs a rather unusual notice. Someone's pet is missing; an animal that answers to the name Josie. No, a missing pet is not a big deal nor is Josie is an unusual name. What is unusual is that Josie is a cockatiel, and she also answers to the names Lulu, Sweet Bologna Puss, and Foreshadowing Disaster. Yes, the bird answers to Bologna Puss and Foreshadowing Disaster. Read a little farther down the page, and one discovers that Josie enjoys Beyonce's Single Ladies, Guns -n- Roses' Sweet Child of Mine, and Bing Crosby's rendition of You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby. I've been pondering the connection, and whether lyrical, thematic or rythymic I just don't know. Perhaps the bird has eclectic tastes. Perhaps she simply enjoys singing along, but neither possibility much matters.

What is significant is that only one half mile (as the cockatiel flies) from Josie's wanted poster is the home of one heck of a largemouth bass. Josie is the landmark. Find Josie and you'll find the bass.

Ben thought the fish may have topped six pounds, but I'm guessing it was much larger (when an angler fails to catch a particular fish, he or she forever has the right to claim said fish was enormous and of uncanny intelligence). We were paddling along shore and casting to the edge of the weeds, which marked the drop off to much deeper water. Fishing was slow. Those few fish that showed themselves were either too small to inhale my 2/0 hook, or too smart to fall for a few strands of bucktail lashed to a chunck of airbrushed foam (which was in turn lashed to an over-eager bassing neophyte). As luck would have it, or rather as luck always seems to have it, I flubbed my double haul when it most mattered. When the water caved in around my popper I did all that I could do, which was to strike hard on fifty feet of slack line. Nobody home. Ben glanced back over his shoulder.

"Definitely five ... maybe six pounds. That was the fish we were looking for."

"Yeah, I know. Thanks."

"Too much slack."

"Yeah, I know. Thanks."

"Try to keep your line tight."

"Again, thanks."

Ben's barbs hurt, but he was right. I made a rookie mistake. I couldn't blame the wind or weather. I couldn't blame the river gods. I couldn't blame my guide. My inattention and poor form cost me the thickest largemouth I've ever encountered.

Foreshadowing Disaster indeed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gear Swap

I think I'll just put it right out there, and hope my wife doesn't read my blog. I've way too much shiznat. Way ... way too much. Three 905s, two 904s, two 906s. I fish one of each. Reels ... extra there too. Nets. Waders. Boots. Lines. So much stuff.

So here's the deal. I'll list some of the gear with which I'm willing to part. If any of you see anything you like then write with trade suggestions. I'm not necessarily looking to sell anything (I suppose I would if prompted), but I'm always looking for new toys.

What specifically am I looking for? A canoe would be nice. Switch rod or a spey rod maybe. Orvis CFOs. Maybe a little 6' or 6'6" two weight. Firearms. Just about anything will be considered. Don't be bashful, and don't be afraid to simply list your items as I have. I may not be interested, but someone else might.


Winston WT 904-3, used twice
Orvis T3 905-2 mid-flex, "Rodkilla" (my nickname when I worked at the shop) penned on the shaft
Orvis Zero Gravity 906-4 mid-flex


Redington ML 9/10 (perfect 8# reel) loaded with an older but hardly used 8# Orvis Wonderline


Orvis, Rio, Cortland ... Some brand new. Some used once or twice. Floating and sinking. Don't be afraid to ask as I very well may have the line for which you're looking.


Brodin Catch and Release style (I think it was called the Madison or Gallatin model) used extensively but solid and perfectly functional.

More to come ... I need to actually look in the closets. If you would like to contact me I may be reached at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Here Comes the Rain Again ...

Notice that 80% of this radar image is clear. The heaviest weather is passing over my neck of the woods, and the USGS has the river well on its way to being blown out ... again. I'm beginning to think this is never going to end. Guess who won't be fishing the evening hatch tonight?

Monday, July 6, 2009

To Do

First thing's first. I need to figure out a way to get out from underneath all this freaking rain. Every time the river drops to a reasonable level, another storm front moves in, unloads a biblical flood on all the local drainages, and effectively screws the pooch for a few more days. It may as well be March for all the waiting and anticipation, and I am tired of waiting and anticipation. Granted that the rain is just what the local trout streams need to better endure the summer. Granted I've always had my best seasons when we've a wet June and July, but enough is enough already. The clouds need to part. The water needs to drop. The river gods need to conference with the weather gods, and get their respective shiznat together. If a sacrifice is required then there are in my neighborhood any number of wandering cats that I think might suffice. Anyone feel like barbecue? (I'm an unapologetic dog guy).

Second, I absolutely must make more time at the tying bench. More to the point, I need to make better use of what time I'm allotted by management. I made the mistake of hooking up a small television just to the side of my vise, and my productivity has dropped substantially as a result. No, I don't have A.D.D. What I have is a serious crush on Fox News personalities Megan Kelly, Alisyn Camerota , Julie Banderas, Andrea Tantaros and Shepard Smith. I love each of them to the point of distraction, but I love Shepard most of all. Not in a man-love kind of way mind you, but perhaps in a prison way. You know ... I'll hop in the top bunk and call ya' Ginger ... that kind of way (at this point it should be abundantly clear that the continuous precipitation is pushing my mind past the limits of normal human endurance).

Third, I need to spend a little more time getting to know that downstate tailwater. Everybody says it's the best trout stream on the east coast so I'm certain it must be. Why such crowds if it isn't all it's said to be? And as much as I hate the drive, maybe I'll hate it less once I better know what to expect once I make it to the river ... aside from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut plates at every other access point.

Fourth, I need to return to Montana. I miss the Yellowstone, Slough Creek, Duck Creek, Hebgen Lake, and the Madison. I miss cutthroat trout, pale morning duns and the Grizzly Bar. I miss seeing all those stars at night; stars we never glimpse here in New York. Sadly, my wife says that at two years-old the triplets are far too young to make the trip. I think she is convinced that once we cross the border from Wyoming to Montana, each of our children is likely to be stalked and devoured in turn by a rabid she-wolf. She forgets that normal, healthy children are everyday born to Montanan parents, and that most of these children thrive and reach old age. In an only slightly better scenario our children grow to love Big Sky Country as much as I do, and want to return every year. For my wife, such a possibility is worse than the inferno.

Finally, I need to start killing my own fly tying material. Grouse, partridge, turkey, rabbit, and squirrel are all here for the taking. I've a mind to start with the rabbit that ate my wife's flowers, although I probably shouldn't use the shotgun to perform the execution. I'm pretty sure firing a 12 gauge in my little corner of suburbia is verboten. No, the shotgun is out. I think I need to hit Wally World and purchase one of those Daisy, CO2 pellet rifles. Better yet, maybe I can pick up an "official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock." How cool would that be?

Who am I kidding? I'd probably put my eye out.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

I wanted to take a moment to wish all my fellow fly flingers a very happy Fourth of July. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. And while you're watching the fireworks or sucking down the barbeque, please give a moment's thought to all of our fighting men and women that today find themselves advancing America's interests at home or abroad. Supporting the troops is not a cliche. A most sincere cyber salute to them all. Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

History of the Orvis CFO

All that follows has been published as part of a website I put together years ago. I've been playing with the idea of closing down that particular site as I haven't updated it in over a year, so I thought I would republish this information here (it's the only section of the website that still gets regular hits). I understand that the blogosphere is populated by many flyfishers who pride themselves on a fishing style that is nothing like that of their fathers. Unlike these folks, I often enjoy fishing the way it was done thirty, forty or fifty years ago. By extension, I enjoy fishing with the same tackle my father or grandfather would have used all those years ago (had they not been unabashed worm dunkers). Hence my obssession with the Orvis CFO. The CFO has become something of a modern classic; the rarest variations often demand two or three times their original asking price. I've become something of a collector and researcher, and the history I've compiled will help those folks who wish to date their reels. For those folks who want to know if their reel was made by Hardy or BFR, all I can say is that sometimes it is impossible to know. I've stopped at 1997 as that year marked the final change to the original style of CFO. The newest incarnation (bronze color with champagne colored appointments), which was manufactured in England and is now made in China, simply does not interest me as do the older models.

History of the Orvis CFO

In 1874 Charles Frederick Orvis received a patent for his ventilated fly reel. This reel was the first of its kind, and is considered by many to be the father of all modern fly reels. Many years later, the Orvis company introduced the CFO reel to commemorate Charles Orvis' achievement. The CFOs were first offered in 1971 and quickly became a success. The original CFO was a spring and pawl design; the disc drag model was introduced in 1994. The prototype CFO, "designed and made by Stan (Bogdan) now resides in the American Museum of Fly-Fishing in Manchester, Vermont" (Marchant 45).

1972 - 1977

The CFO was first offered in the Orvis catalog. The original reels had a screw that went through the back of the frame, which held the spindle. The newer model did not have the screw, instead the spindle threaded into the inside of the reel. The screw on the back was replaced with a cap. All reels with the screw through the back are early models. For roughly the next 20 years, all CFOs were manufactured by Hardy.


CFOs were offered in sizes II, III, IV, and V. Size II and III came standard without the nickel silver line guard, but the III was also offered with the guard for an additional charge. All other reels came standard with the line guard. All of the reels with the exception of the II had adjustable spring and pawl drags. The CFO multiplier was introduced in sizes III, IV, and V. The multipliers have a retrieve rate of 1 2/3 to 1. At this time, all CFOs are cast and then machined. On all these models, the spring and pawl mechanisms are held in place by rivets, which show on the back of the reels.


A size VI CFO was offered. A limited edition CFO was offered in both silver and gold color schemes. These reels were machined from solid bar stock aluminum. They were hand engraved with their limited edition number and "C.F. Orvis." 500 reels of each color were available.


The limted edition reel is no longer offered.


The CFO III without the line guard is no longer available.


A new saltwater CFO is introduced. This reel was produced by STH, and manufactured in Argentina. The drag is still spring and pawl, but all parts are made of corrosion resistant materials. The reels were available in Light and Medium sizes; each is a bright gold color.


The Large saltwater CFO is offered to accomodate larger line weights.


A new drag is offered in the saltwater CFO, a double pawl system. An angler can use the light pawl for minimal resistance, the heavy pawl for strong resistance, or both for an even stronger drag. This design was copied from the Presentation series of reels. The CFO VI freshwater was dropped from the inventory as was the CFO Multiplier.


The CFO saltwater model is dropped from the catalog.


The CFO VI is reintroduced, and the CFO II is replaced by the 123. The 123 has a larger diameter, line guard, and an adjustable drag.


CFO size selection is downsized; the reel is only available in sizes 123, III and IV.


The CFO VI is once again reintroduced. At this point the 123, III, IV and VI are available. A new anniversary edition is available, to commemorate the 20th year of the CFO reels. These reels were machined from bar stock aluminum, and had a platinum finish. This edition was a size III, and was designed to accept spools from standard reels.


Machined reels are introduced this year, and were available in sizes II, 123, III, and IV. These reels feature a "no rivet" design. The rivets that were used to hold the drag pawls in place are removed; the pawls are now internally affixed to a reinforced internal plate. The old cast reels are still offered this year in sizes 123, III, and IV. These still had rivets through the back. The new reels were manufactured in such a way as to allow interchangeability of spools between machined and cast CFOs. However, some experimentation may be necessary before a proper fit can be attained. An "Introductory Edition CFO III" was also offered this year. The reel was identitcal to the new, machined reel except for the finish. The Introductory CFO had an olive finish (slightly different from later disc-drag models) and featured gold anodized aluminum hardware. The line guard on this model was made from nickel silver.


The CFO I is introduced. This reel has a slightly larger diameter than the CFO II, and is designed to match up with the One Weight and One Ounce rods. The CFO I also had an adjustable drag, which the CFO II did not. The cast reels are dropped from inventory. All CFOs are now available in either gray with silver appointments or olive with gold components. These reels were available in size I, 123, III and IV.


The CFO III disc is introduced. These reels were green with silver components, and should not be confused with their olive, spring and pawl counterparts. The first 2000 of these models were introductory editions. Each of the introductory reels was individually numbered. Incidentally, the C.F.O. 1874 reproduction reel is offered this year. The reel foot on this reel was affixed with four screws, while the original's reel foot was held in place by three rivets.


The olive spring and pawl models are dropped from inventory. The CFO disc is offered in sizes I, 123, III, IV and V.


Size IV and V disc reels are offered with corrosion resistant finishes and parts, for use in saltwater. These reels are named the CFO Saltwater IV and V.


Small changes are made to the drag mechanism of the CFO disc. All spools are still interchangeable, but the clutch gear components are not.

*** Many production anomalies exist. I've seen CFOs in red and jet black, and still others without script on the back. This is further compounded by the fact that some reels (especially the earlier models) were occasionally modified by their owners. As to value, I've followed the sale of many reels at auction (Ebay, Lang's, etc.), and those that consistently demand the highest prices ($350.00 to $700.00) are the gold and silver limited edition model of 1979 and the original 1972 model with inverted script.***


Marchant, Douglas J. "Stan Bogdan: The Man and His Reel." Art of Angling Journal. 1:3. Eds. Paul Schmookler and Ingrid Sils. 2002.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Knots a la Green Beret

A former U.S. Special Forces soldier who uses the pseudonym Sean Linnane gives a brief tutorial on some essential knots for anyone who gets around in the outdoors. They're (k)not specific to fishing, but very useful nonetheless. The blog is also interesting reading for anyone with an interest in an American soldier's perspective on current events, global politics, history, etc. You'll find the knots here.

Definitely worthwhile.