Saturday, March 17, 2018

Lets talk about shanks.

Over the years of fly fishing for pike my choice of flies as changed a lot. I'm a firm believer that size does matter , and this does not mean only using big flies. The size of the fly goes with the appetite and mood of the pike. Generally i tend to use  my big flies early spring and mid to late autumn into winter. Big flies range from 20 to 30 cm
The rest of the time i fish small flies (around 10 to 13 cm).
As for the models that are prominent in my boxes, well that's easy: the articulated ones. It usually involve one or many articulations.
If i only use one shank, its placed in front of the hook and not behind. I like that position as it pushes the hook back and balance the streamer very well, and it can result in more positive hook ups.
Mini T-bones are an absolute killer and you can make so many variations. For this type i only use strong shanks, like the big game shanks from Flymen, or homemade shanks ( made from hard stainless steel wire of 1mm)
Now one type of fly that requires shanks is definitely the game changer.These are time consuming to tie but i absolutely love using them! Variations are endless on a GC, but i use two types:
The first is the one with two hooks, and that's the larger model i fish. One large hook at the front, 6/0, four shanks and a small hook at the back  1/0. Only big game shanks should be used for this one as you dont want anything to open up if a large fish is hooked on the back hook.
Big game shanks, 100% secure.

If you want to make these yourself i made this short video where you can see how i make mine.

The second type is a smaller version with only one hook at the front. The body and tail is made with lighter shanks, stainless steel of  0.7 up to 0.9 mm. These are the normal shanks with the little eye at the front. Same here you can buy the directly from fly shop, or you can save money and make them yourself.

Normal shanks with a closed eye on one end.These are strong but could open as the eye is not secured with thread.
For this small shanks, you can of course buy them already made, but with the right tools you can make them yourself as well.If like me you can go though 100's of shanks  (i do tie a lot for clients that come to my lodge) It's something to consider doing, if you only use a few , many buying them from a shop would be a better option money wise...
So for them u need a lighter wire and one special pair of pliers, the Beadsmith 1 step-looper.This is going to make your life so much easier! 

Three different type of looper exist, make sure you get the large 3mm model so your shanks will articulate with ease.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

First raft trip of 2018

I am just in between two groups of anglers at the moment, so with a few days off i better make the most of it and enjoy a day's fishing for myself. After the cold weather we had and with an other spell coming at the weekend, i knew this was the time to hit a river.

We got a good few fish, mostly jacks on the fly. Intermediate line and large game changers was working well for me. Every time i go out and fish a game changer i realise how deadly this pattern can be! So good that every time i come back home from fishing i need to tie some more for my box.
An other thing that i had time to test properly was the Bad ass glass rod from Echo. My first impression of the 10 weight model was not great as the rod felt fairly heavy in my hand (compare to the one i'm mostly using, the Bandit from Epic). But after a couple of hours casting, i got my rhythm and the rod totally changed my early impressions. I find it very capable at casting large streamers with ease. As with all glass rods, you need to slow down your movements, and with practice it becomes very addictive. I have been fishing fibreglass all the time for the last two years now and it's going to take a lot for me to go back to graphite.

 The Echo is a great entry level rod for the one who likes to try glass for the first time. The Bandit, because of its price tag is better suited when you know that glass is for you and that you want to commit with these rods ( or you are well off money wise..)
I had the chance to try the Bad Ass in 8 weight and its a fantastic rod. It's a lot lighter than the 10 weight. You probably won't be able to cast big chunky chicken flies with it but for the smaller streamers, its an absolute pleasure to use. And don't be scared by using an 8 weight (fibreglass) for pike, these rods have huge reserve of power in the butt section. I had the 10 weight sent to me from Toby at Funky fly tying. I am not longer with funky fly tying due to personal reasons, but if you want to try the Bad ass for yourself, get in touch with funky and get your hands on some glass.Life is too short just to cast fast rods... Ad some fun to your fishing!
There will be a lot less fishing for me from now on as the new season will get very busy here at the lodge, but i will keep on tying flies as the Alaska summer trip is coming fast!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Freestyle tails and where do i get them.

Now, i know i have been teasing many of you guys to where i get my material to craft my own tails.I have got so many people asking me where do i get my stuff. And because i'm a sound guy, i like to help as many fly tyers out there (wink)
Pike/burbot mutant

We all work on a budget, and lets face it, some materials are just crazy money! So nothing wrong to try to source materials by yourself, and frankly i am so surprised to see so many not making the simple effort to search the various retail sites out there. Ebay is one of my strong favorite! So do yourself a favour and browse stuff on it, buy samples, sometimes its a miss and sometimes you find fantastic materials out there at unbeatable prices!
Freestyling is the best! Design , cut, colours! One of a kind!

The material i use for my tails is called Ultrasuede microfibre, or faux suede/shammy. You find it in many thickness, but for optimum resistance and movement , i use the 0.5mm. One large sheet cost around 35€ for a mighty size of 137cm X 91cm!

 If you only tie a few streamers a year this could be too much, but why not sharing with a friend? I tie 100's of predator flies a year, for myself and clients that come for a week at the lodge or for a day guiding, so i have no problem using this much.
But the advantage is not only money, it's the freedom that you have, make the tails the size shape and colours that you want.Ok maybe the finish product might not be as nice as some of the ones sold in fly shop but who cares? Certainly not the fish and that's good enough for me!
The platypus tail.

Golden trout on a forked tail and side fins design.

For the moment i get it from South  Korea, click on this magical link and let your creative-self take over! No stoping you now!
If you read this article and the link doesn't work anymore it simply because the seller is gone or the stuff isn't available, just start a new search, you know how its called now!
Invent, create, explore, possibilities are virtually endless now!
Here's a new video up on Youtube, as usual, please like and subscribe or you will never catch a big fish again...

One thing super important when you create your tails is to have a very good pair of scissors. Same thing here, i used for years scissors "made for flytying" and yes there is many great brand out there and good tools, but again the price can be ridiculous! Most value scissors come from the same factories in India,Pakistan or china, just the branding changes and the prices...I use mostly FISKARS now.They have a great hold, and the blades stay sharp for overland they are certainly not more expensive that a mid range pair of scissors bought from your fly shop..
One design that i used for a long time now, side baitfish is awesome!

The simple and classic wiggle tail, just look how i include an anal fin to most of my designs, this act as a splash of colour, and a mini-keel to balance the streamer.
Keep and eye on the blog for more Tips and tricks about buying materials.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tech & Ties

Weather is being a bit of a bitch at the moment, heavy rains, heavy snow, strong winds makes it for very difficult fishing. Water levels and temperatures are like a yoyo at the moment, nothing settles for more than 48 hours. I am not the type of fisherman that enjoys sitting in a bivvy for hours on end with little to no action, i like to be active when i fish.

So instead of wasting hours on the water getting cold, i rather put my time to more constructive occupations. Like getting some hours in the air getting new shots with the drone and tying some flies for the spring/summer here and my return to Alaska ( i am very impatient for this trip!)
For the arial footage, for those who are interested in this type of things...I used the active tracking on the Mavic, but i find it not to reliable.The camera has to be at a certain distance to lock on the subject and if you go behind trees or in shadows the camera will loose you every single time. So to help with this i use an external gps like via bluetooth to my tablet. I got myself a little Garmin Glo.This little device is fantastic.
Glo can receive position information from both GPS and GLONASS satellite constellations ( the Russian equivalent to GPS), allowing it to connect top to 24 more satellites than devices that rely on GPS alone.This allows GLO to lock on to satellites approximately 20 percent faster and remain connected even at high speed.What's more, GLO updates its position information at 10 times per seconds! And that's up to 10 times more often than the GPS receivers in many devices.I got mine from Amazon and got it even cheaper than on the Garmin website.
Glo is  about the size of a Zippo lighter.
So now i have no worries of the drone loosing me! Here's a quick edit using just the Active track on the Mavic at sunrise:

Now for a few ties,i am working mainly with Kanekalon hair  at the moment, a few more toads in yellow variations, and a few baitfish.The electric yellow and pink leave me great action before, so i decided to top my box up with a few more of them. Next, a few more ties with a flashy trend.
Yellow toads.

"El Classico" always carry one of this colour combo in your box!

The Coon.

Hot tickets

Sunday, February 04, 2018

FWA's Pike Toads & where i get my materials.

I have fished tarpon toads for pike for a few years now, and with good success. But i recent times i wanted to make them bigger and with the addition of a large magnum zonker you get that extra movement that drives pikes mental.If you struggle with the "X" style tying for the head, look for tarpon toad flies on YouTube where you will find many videos showing you in details how to tie that way and get these heads done.About YouTube, feel free to like and subscribe on my  channel to help it grow and bring you more contents.
A quick history of the tarpon toad (extract from :
"The Tarpon toad fly was invented by Gary Merriman, owner of the Fish Hawk fly shop in Atlanta,Georgia.The toad is a light-weight, slow sinking fly designed for sight casting, and when it was introduced the early 90's in the Florida Keys, it immediately improved the hook up rates for anglers pursuing  skittish fish".

 Since i left Funky fly tying pro team i have been on a search for fibres to replace the fu*ky fibres and fu*ky hairs that i use on most of my flies. For the fibres i use now congo hair, people will tell you it's different, but in reality its the same stuff! Congo hair is available from , based in the U.S these guys will supply you without any worries.I usually do one big order a year to avail from the discounts on shipping they offer. And they have a HUGE range of colours and blends and at only 1.75$ per pack, thats just 1.40 euro! Why pay more?? While you there, pick up some of their Northern lights flash, great flash with two colours and volume, and thats only 1 euro / pack!
For the head of the toads i use Kanekalon hair, primarily used for the hairdressing industry they are perfect for tying flies! Kanekalon is the same stuff that you can find in fly shops but at a fraction of the price!
Delivery of Kanekalon, just look at the size of the packs!
Two big advantages in using Kanekalon, 1:it's cheap, and 2: it's versatile.
I use it straight from the pack for volume, and use a hair dryer to take away the volume and straighten the hairs. I usually use this technique for the tails of my streamers (but i keep the crinkle volume for the body)
Kanekalon, straight out of the pack.
Using heat to straighten the hairs is so important for saltwater baitfish, straight fibres = straight swimming action.
Kanekalon after heat treatment.

I get my Kanekalon from the U.K, go and check for all they have to offer.One pack of Kanekalon contains usually five to six packs sold in fly shops. and at about 3€ a pack you'll be mad not to use that stuff! Here's a direct link to the hairs that i order: kanekalon jumbo braid
I will reveal in the next few weeks other cheap materials that i use, and cheap doesn't mean lower quality, these are the same stuff you normally buy and use for your streamers!

Thursday, February 01, 2018


Having a good pair of sunglasses is essential when fishing, looking cool is optional but nowadays with so many brands on the market it well possible.The only problem is that a good pair of polarized can be very expensive.
But no more! The Cassette company is a brand coming from Idaho that started in 2011 and is growing every day. First made for snowboarders and skaters, Cassette is expending, offering now great shades for the angler. (check their Stockholm range for quality polarised). What attracted me about this brand is the quality and the value they offer.They use the same factories that more expensive brands use, so they can deliver great quality, but they're not to greedy and offer the customer great value as well!
Recycled skateboard, Canadian maple.

I particularly like their wooden frames : bamboo, kossowood , zebra wood and their recycled skateboard decks in canadian maple.To add to all this they use  environment friendly acetate.
So i am pleased and happy to announced that Cassette have now included myself in their brand ambassador program.
Dark bamboo 

And to celebrate this, you guys can get any of their product with a discount! Use my own discount code when ordering to get a whopping 20% of your next order!
Here's the code:   NORBERTFWA don't forget to share it with friends.
Stockholm range

So if you are like me and suffer from loosing and breaking sunglasses on a regular basis, or if you need a good value spare pair look no further (unless you are loaded with money, so you can buy a pair of Costas twice a year...) The prices range from 45$ up to 150$ , they change their stock on regular basis, offering new model and a fantastic choice of frames, lens and colours. Even if you already own a pair of sunglasses, these can be great to have as a spare , but don't let the price fool you, they are very good quality and they will be very happy as your main fishing glasses too.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Costa Rica, my new bff...

Its just been a week since i came back to Ireland, and as usual returning to reality is always difficult. This is my second visit to CR and every time i fall in love more and more with this beautiful country. From the friendly locals to the abundant wildlife, not to mention the weather and the fishing, this place has a lot to offer. I am already planning my next visit.
Unwanted night in Toronto

We only ventured on the car park, way too cold for the clothes we had

I like when i travel to such places to work for my fishing.Yes i could easily book myself in a lodge and get onto fish right away, but i see these holidays as a complete package. I go there not to just fish, but to get more life experiences, meeting new people, encounters with local wildlife, and of course having fun. And one week in a specialised fishing lodge will pay for a month or two living in a beach house...
Ferry crossing from Puntarenas to Paquera

This trip started badly, with our flights delayed, then just before take off we had engine troubles grounding the plane for a further 3 hours on the tarmac.We missed our connecting flight in Toronto, and were stuck there in artic weather, something unusual even for Canada.We landed in minus 24 degrees with a real feel of minus 36....This is surely the last time i will travel via Canada at this time of the year, and not to mention Air Canada for their terrible services all around....Yes, after all these troubles upon arrival in San Jose airport, my suitcase was missing....Turns out they sent it back from Toronto to Dublin...With it all my fishing gear and all my chargers for my cameras and drone. The suitcase turned up but 9 days later!!!
Our first CR sunset from the ferry.

Of course the fishing was great the first week, and once my case arrived the weather turned, a change of wind (strong ) and heavy tropical thunderstorms killed the fishing from the shore.Any one who tries their hand at some exotic fishing from the rocks knows how hard it can be and how quickly the fish can shy away from the shore to be pushed back to deeper water. I always try to book a day or two with a charter boat, but the weather messed that up for me too, as the boat was cancelled due to strong wind.
Our piece of paradise for the next two weeks.

Thanks to my good friend that lives there and the lent of a spinning rod and a few lures i did manage to get my target, the rooster fish.
After these types of trips we always learn and evolved.It's only when the fishing is hard and you face difficult challenges that we become better anglers. I start to know the local area better as well and that is a big plus. Rock marks, time to fish, types of flies and lures...Be sure of one thing! i will be back again and again. Thank you Lolo & Silvia for all your help you guys rocks!
Our bedroom, falling asleep to the sound of the Pacific...Priceless.

For the filming i wanted to do a mini series, like 5 short vlogs, but with the missing chargers i could waste precious battery life.My drone was grounded too, to travel in an airplane with lipo batteries, they need to be discharged down to 30% for safety on board. So i did the best i could , with no gimball for smooth footage and limited battery this is what i managed to bring back for you guys to watch:

This way....just wilderness and unexplored rock marks.

If you have batteries with your drone....You can scout areas pretty fast!

First fish first evening, black tuna, great in sashimi! 

Lures have a short life over there.

One more species  for my book!

My sister done pretty well too....

Early mornings and late evenings we the best for larger fish.The sun can get very intense from 11 am till 3 pm.

Cerveza & Pina colada, lives essentials.

Keeping hydrated

Everything rust when you are literally a stone throw away from the ocean

Local beach chickens

Daily visit from the clan of capuchin to the garden

Coatis were shy but present

Surfers paradise

Pura Vida

A ten minutes walk from the beach house to Montezuma village.I can get use to this type of commuting.

So often you are reminded about our environment In CR.If only we could follow in their footsteps.

Sunset picture time, helped by the extremely generous rum and cokes served on the ferry.