Saturday, April 14, 2018

GoPro slow motion test.

I simply couldn't wait to try the new slow motion on the Gopro 6. Full HD 1080 with an amazing 240 fps. And the voice activation is fantastic!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Cameras and fly fishing, a personal evolution.

Since its first release, i have been a big fan of Gopro. They are small, tough, waterproof and with getting the settings right the videos and pictures are great.
I owned  three gopros: the very first one, the number 3 (that one was not great) the 4 black and now the 6 black.
I didn't need to upgrade every year, but instead i waited for a big leap in technology and software.
The 6 fits all this, 4k at 60fps, and a slow motion thats amazing for such a little piece of gear, 1080 at an amazing 240fps, voice activation and many other goodies are packed in this tiny camera.
Over the years, i have tried many different set up, trying to find the right balance between practicality and quality of videos/pictures.
From a  DSLR (Lumix GH-2) + spare lens, a point and shoot camera (i do take this one when travelling, Lumix LX100) to the Osmo+ from DJI.
The Gopro was always by my side, 80% of the time. Yes it can rain a lot here in Ireland, and when you need the camera to be rolling, it has to be rolling, rain or shine.

I recently got back into vlogging, and was starting to look at the possibility in using the gopro.One big problem was the awful sound quality on the camera. Even the newer models that don't need the housing for waterproofing have a dreadful sound.
To solve  this problem  all that's needed is to hook up an external mic. Ok it's not waterproof anymore, because the side door has to be open to plug the mic adapter but at least you can plan the "talking shots" during the dry spells.
Gopro being Gopro, they had to fuck up somewhere along the way...No mic port on the camera, instead you have to buy an ADAPTER on their website for the extortionate price of 64.99€!! (but if you look around you can find cheaper, i got mine for 40€).

In the last week, i did put a pic of the new set up on social media and a good few asked for details, so there's my set up:
Start with a good support, you cannot go wrong with a Gorilla Pod from Joby. You can use it as a selfie stick, a stable tripod for time lapse, or wrap it around anything you can to create interesting shots or when its impossible to sit it correctly (moving vehicle, wind...)
Make sure to have the tripod equipped with a Ball Head, this will help to keep you shot level no matter how the tripod is set up.
Then add a Tripod mount for Gopro, easily found on ebay for very little money.

Now an aluminium skeleton frame housing to hold and protect the camera.The case need to have an opening on the side to allow the side door to open fully and to be able to plug in the mic adapter. The best case are surprisingly cheap, strongly built, with a cold shoe mount on top for the mic and a 52mm UV filter.This filter can be unscrewed and you can use different filters. I mainly use ND filters (neutral density) and polarised.The 52mm also keep your Gopro lens well protected from scratches.
Side door opens easily for the mic adapter.

To top the set up all we need is a mic (and that stupid adapter). For best results and something that doesn't take too much room i use the RODE Video Micro.

I believe this set up is going to be my main one now for general vlogging and filming.For larger project and travels i always include in my bag  the point and shoot Lumix LX100 for those more artistic B rolls & hero shots and of course the Mavic pro for aerial shots.

  • One tip for taking pictures of you and a fish when you are alone, is to set the gopro on time lapse pictures. I set mine to take one picture every second.When your trophy fish is safely in the net, you can clamp your camera and press shoot, this will take a picture every second.Only then you can take the fish out of the water and strike a few pose without the worry of waiting on a timer. By doing this you will end up with way too many pictures, and most of them will be crap, but in that bunch you always have a couple that are top quality, and some pics can be unexpected as well, especially if you let the camera roll while releasing the fish. Just remember to always be in the shot...After a few trials, you will know how far to hold the fish from the lens.Too far and you will see nothing, too close you just look like you're trying hard to make your fish look bigger...Always shoot on wide and not superwide for the hero shot.

As for the gopro 6, its now voice activated, even better!

For the mic placement be aware that once you put the dead cat (that fluffy wind breaker) on the mic, it will be inside the shot because of the wide angle. To correct this, the bottom plastic nut to secure the mic on the cold shoe is surrounded by grooves to hold the wire in place. Just pull  the back of the mic downward and secure the wire in place inside on the the groove.Your mic is now pointing slightly upwards and doesn't obstruct the frame.
The dead cat will show on screen if left like this.

Just pull it back and secure the wire.Its now out of the way .
Have an other solid 8 weeks of work here at the lodge, and i hope to test all this properly once i have more spare time.This set up will be brilliant especially when you are restricted on room and weight while travelling abroad.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

1-step looper review

After i posted my last video on how i make my own shanks , i got a message from "anthony_lee " on Instagram, and he put me on these pliers.
After a quick search, i found the best value was on amazon. Two clicks and two days later the loopers arrived. Right out of the package my first impression was not great , as the pliers were smaller than what i was expecting. Are they gonna do the job with thick stainless steel?...
 I ordered the 3mm loop maker for my pike shanks. Not disappointed with the size of loop it creates, i rather have a larger loop to help with movement and not to  get stuck sideways like some shanks can do when you cast them.
You have two other options as well if you want to make smaller and lighter shanks for your trout or bass streamers, the 1.5mm loop and the 2.25mm loop.
I open the package and as soon as i have them in hand, they feel heavy. (usually a good sign) The grip is very nice and it does feel like a quality product...Now lets bend some wire and see...
First go and it makes a perfect round closed loop, effortless! Just need a little squeeze with a set of normal pliers to finish the loop properly. This is so easy!
While applying pressure to cut and bend the wire at the same time, i didn't feel like the whole lot was going to fell apart. It's a solid piece of equipment! My first impression was well wrong.
The bonus with this looper is that you can do the "r" loop as well, not sure if they are fully designed for that but it works perfect. Just check the video to see the different way you need to feed the wire inside the jaws.
At around 25/30€ its not that cheap, but just look at  the price of the shanks in fly shops....If you buy more than five packs of shanks in your fly life, then this is a tool well worth having in your tying desk.
If you want to get one just check the left column of the blog ←, there's a direct link to Amazon (thats the cheapest i could find).
Now i will have to use it for the next 6 months, and i will come back with an update to see if they are still working...I have a good feeling about this one.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Articulation Nation: An introductory into the world of 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.
MiniBone, 40mm shank in front, 6/0 behind, rabbit whiptail

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)
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:
Large, two hooks GC.
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.

Smaller GC where the lighter shanks are a good choice

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.

Now for the wire i use, and where i get it!
The wire is stainless steel grade 316 ( medical/marine) solid, and never any rust even in saltwater use.( try them on seabass!Well with it!)
I order all my wires from fast postal service and great products.

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!