Because if the election didn’t quite go your way, what better way to cheer up than a photo of not one, not two, but three fish hooked and landed at the same time at Alaska West.
If you’ve ever swung flies for anadramous fish, odds are you might recognize the name, Jerry French. If not, you probably should. Jerry’s innovative nature has lent itself to much of the way many of us chase fish today. From modern steelhead and salmon fly design to the origins of skagit style spey casting, Jerry’s creations have been a result of one thing, and one thing only, to solve problems witnessed over countless days on thewater.. That’s true innovation in our book. He’s also an alumnus of Alaska West, which needless to say, we’re pretty darn proud of.
Jerry recently released his latest project, his Renegade series of single and double handed rods from Pieroway. We asked him to give us a write up on the theory behind the design of the Renegade rods, he obliged, and today we share that write up with you.
Take it away Jerry!
The reason I designed the Renegade rods was to address some obvious reoccurring problems. Guiding throughout Washington and Alaska has afforded me the opportunity to guide a huge variety of clients with skill levels covering a wide variety of fishing techniques and situations.
After many years of observation and experimentation, I realized that the advantages of shorter rods and line systems are far more reaching than I would ever had expected. Across the board, rods under 12 feet were far more versatile fishing and casting tools for the beginner to the advanced angler alike. However, the greatest advantage I found was the massively reduced learning curve. Due to a much easier overall working system length, everything is easier, more predictable, and more efficient, thus resulting in a noticeable decrease in caster fatigue, both mentally and physically. The overall length and weight of the rod, reel, and line systems obviously had a huge effects on the anglers stamina and ability to be a consistent situational caster allowing them to fish effectively over any amount of time.
The second most important observation was that the action of most popular fly rods available today, including both single and double handed rods, have become increasingly faster over the years.. Almost to the effect that anything not labeled as ‘fast action’ is believed not to perform or help one cast better. This is not the case at all!
There are a few rods out there with what I like to call, ‘love.’ Its this ‘love’ that provides instant feedback from the rod to the caster throughout the entire cast. This caster feedback is the result of a progressive medium-fast action that allows the angler too feel the rod working without having to overload the rod with grains to make it cast. In short, the faster the rod, the more gains required, and thus the harder the angler must work to load, cast, and fish the rod.
A medium-fast, progressive action piece of equipment with an optimized casting package will help the angler load and cast the rod consistently, constantly improving the anglers casting mechanics and fishing performance, with an obviously shorter learning curve for all skill levels.
I designed the Renegade series to solve these apparent fishing and casting problems. Furthermore, I wanted to design a series of rods to maximize angling performance across the board, in rod length to weight ratios perfect for their indtended purpose. Manufactured precisely to my specifications, from handle lengths and diameter, to guide size and spacing on every rod, with a buttery, medium-fast, progressive action that will load easy, yet recovers quickly.
The Renegade single hand rod series are available in an 8′ 6″ 3 weight, a 9′ 4 weight, and a 9′ 6″ 5 weight, and are the perfect length for their intended purpose. The buttery action will single hand Skagit cast a compact head system equally as well with your favorite single hand lines for streamers to dry flies while also improving casting accuracy and allowing for a more delicate presentation. The action also improves fish fighting and landing ratios, not to mention protecting that ultra-light tippet material.
The Renegade two handed rod series are available in a 10′ 6″ 6 weight, an 11′ 7 weight, 11′ 6″ 8 weight, and a 12′ 9 weight, and are designed with the same powerful yet buttery action at the most efficient lengths for their intended purpose.
These rod’s are a joy to cast and fish for days on end. With an ultra efficient action and design, the Renegade series of two handed rod’s are a much needed loveable, dynamic connection in a world of minimal to zero stretch casting systems.
Finally, I am personally committed to providing the best possible service to help you understand which Renegade rods would be the best fit for you and how to set them up perfectly for your own intended purpose. For more information, ask your local shop, or check out my website for what I consider to be the best gear available today and the information to make it work best for you.
Feel the love, feel the difference in performance. Pieroway Renegade series.
More from Jerry French
Lets face it, no matter how good your eyes are, there are plenty of times while fishing, whether with streamers or nymphs, when you can’t see your fly. Perhaps the water is too dirty, too deep, or you momentarily lost track of the fly.. It just happens. However, that should’t keep you from tracking your fly through the water, or at least maintaining an idea of where your fly is at all times.
Fish Beyond Your Fly Line
One of the primary things many anglers do when they can’t see their fly is rely on the end of the fly line as a strike indicator or focus point. This is a great and strongly recommended method to detect when a fish eats your fly. However, a common issue we see all the time is that while focusing exclusively on the fly line, some anglers will fish through a piece of water where they think their fly is tracking, while their fly is actually working way behind or ahead of their intended target point.
Instead, watch your fly land and do your best to imagine where your fly is as you move it through a piece of water. Take into account the length of your leader and try to identify and track where that point would be from the end of your fly line throughout the retrieve. Therefore, by “knowing” where your fly is as you move it through the water, you will better be able to fish through holes, around rocks, or any other type of water Walter may be hiding in.
Have you ever wondered how your guide always seems to know when to yell, “Set!” even when you swear you didn’t see (or feel) anything out of the ordinary? Well, if you would like to know a little secret about the industry, it’s actually fairly common that we aren’t actually seeing the fly at all! However, by tracking the expected location of the fly as it moves through the water, it’s not uncommon to see flashes, boils, or the bright white of a fish’s mouth as it opens and closes.. All of which mean, “Set!”
In other words, to become a part of the ten percent of anglers who catch ninety percent of the fish, the moment between when the fish eats your fly and when you actually feel the pull are extremely important. Pay attention beyond the tip of your fly line, watch for that mouth to open, or for that subtle push of water, and you’ll only increase your ability to catch more fish.
More Relevant Fishing Tips
Today’s post comes from the ‘topics you asked us to write about‘ category!
Spey casting is a fun, efficient, and versatile way cover a whole bunch of water. There are numerous casts (and variations of those casts) designed to present your fly in situations which would be otherwise impossible with a traditional overhead cast. However, for many anglers new to spey casting, it can be really confusing as to how to determine which spey cast to use, and when to use it.
There are a number of variables present on the river, all of which can dictate which cast (or even variation of such cast) will be best for a particular situation. Some of these variables include, but are certainly not limited to; wind direction, the side of the river you’re casting from (river position), present obstacles and obstructions, the desired presentation of your fly, and so on. However, today we’re going to talk about the two most governing factors in determining which spey cast to use for most every situation; wind direction and river position.
Safety should always be of the most utmost concern when spey casting. No one wants a hook in the head, especially the size of which are most often associated with spey casting, and choosing your cast with the wind direction in mind is crucial to keeping you out of harms way of your fly.
We like to simplify the wind direction as either upstream (blowing in a direction traveling upriver) or downstream (blowing in a direction traveling downriver). This direction dictates which side of the body the anchor must be placed in order to keep the line (and thus, fly) from being blown into our body during the cast.
For example, if the wind is blowing upstream, it is crucial that we choose a cast which places our anchor on the upstream side of our body so that the wind will help to carry the line safely away from our body during the forward cast. Such is true in the opposite scenario as well; with a downstream wind, a cast must be chosen which places the anchor on the downstream side of the body.
Obviously, in the event of a calm day, or a wind blowing either head on or directly away from you, casts can be chosen with anchors on either side of the body. However, keep in mind that even the slightest cross breeze can reposition your line into an unsafe position. Always veer on the safe side.
Aside from wind direction, the other major factor dictating which cast to choose is your river position, or perhaps better put, the side of the river you’re casting from.
We like to simplify our position on the river as either river right (on the righthand bank when looking downstream) or river left (on the lefthand bank when looking downstream). Knowing which side of the river you’re casting from (along with whether you cast right or left handed) helps dictate which cast we can use, and how to perform it (whether off of our dominant or non-dominant side).
For example, lets say you’re casting from a river left position, with an upstream wind, and prefer to cast right handed (with your right hand on top). The wind direction immediately dictates that we must choose a cast which places the anchor upstream of our body. Therefore, a few casts we could choose from could be a snap T, circle spey, or a single spey to name a few. Due to the fact that we are a right handed caster, casting from river left, each of these casts will performed off of the dominant side.
Now, lets jump over to the other side of the river, on river right, but still assuming an upstream wind. We must still choose a cast which puts the anchor upstream of us, but because our river position has changed, so must our execution. For a right handed caster, appropriate casts now might still include a snap T or circle spey, but they must now be executed “cack handed” (such that casts across the body off of the non-dominant shoulder).
Note: Keep in mind, casters who are able to cast both right and left handed are afforded the advantage to always cast off of the appropriate dominant shoulder regardless of the wind direction or river position.
So, Which Cast Do I Use?
More often than not, there are more than one effective spey cast to use for a given situation. However, an appropriate cast can be narrowed down by remembering the following.
- Wind Direction: Dictates which side the appropriate cast must place the anchor.
- River Position: Dictates how the cast will be performed (Dominant shoulder, “cack handed,” right handed, or left handed).
Always think about these two factors before starting down a run and you’ll be sure to choose the best cast for the situation at hand.
More on Spey Casting
We’ve said it many times before, but we love fishing giant flies for our trout in western Alaska. Some might assume that that’s because we subscribe to the ‘big fly, big fish’ theory of fly selection..
However, in our neck of the woods, abundant food sources and a short growing season lends itself to trout, both big and small, pouncing on flies the size of which might be more at home in a largemouth bass pond than a trout stream.
Don’t believe us? Just ask the juvenile dolly varden hanging out of the mouth of the, oh, ten inch rainbow trout shown above. Small fish eat big flies too!
More About Alaskan Trout
Ever wondered why so many fish come unbuttoned during a jump? Is it coincidence? Hardly.
Fish are able to contort their body faster and more violently when airborne than they can in the water. After all, there’s far less resistance in air than in water. When under tension, this can cause an unexpected yank on the leader able to break tippet or easily dislodge a fly.
Most saltwater anglers are familiar with the phrase, ‘bow to the king,’ when referring to jumping tarpon. The concept is simple; To combat the inevitable jump from a hooked tarpon, savvy tarpon anglers will thrust the rod tip towards the fish and down towards the surface of the water, as if paying homage to the fish with a well deserved bow. Doing so introduces slack into the fly line, thus reducing tension for the fish to pull against whilst thrashing above the surface of the water. It works well on tarpon, so why don’t many anglers use the same technique when fighting other species?
We’re not sure either! Whether you’re fishing for rainbow trout, silver salmon, smallmouth bass, Atlantic salmon, or virtually any other species prone to rocketing skyward throughout the fight, try taking a page out of the tarpon angler’s playbook, take a bow, and hopefully you’ll bring more fish to hand.