Did You Know?

What Has The Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) Done For Me?

By Skip Hosfield

This is a question we often hear among club members when they are approached to join the Federation. I suppose it is an attitude to be expected in an age when fly fishing has expanded far beyond anything imagined by those of us who helped to found this international fraternity of fly fisher’s. Speaking as one who served many years in membership development, at both the regional and national level, I shall try to provide a response to this question.

Anyone who was not already a fly fisherman in 1965 when the FFF was founded cannot really know the nature of the world of fly fishing at that time. I have been a fly fisherman all my life. My father was a fly fisherman and I learned it from him, as most people did then. I moved to Oregon in 1958 and I never met another local fly fisherman until the McKenzie Flyfishers was started in 1964.

There were obviously lots of them around, but they didn’t advertise or proselytize. Unless one had a relative or friend who was a fly fisherman, chances are there was no opportunity to learn. Prior to the founding of the McKenzie Flyfishers there was only one fly fishing club in Oregon – the Flyfishers Club of Oregon. Unless you are a member of the Portland business or professional community you have little chance to enjoy the fellowship of other fly fisherman.

Those of us who were fly fishing in 1964 were such a small part of the sport fishing world that we did not even exist in the eyes of those who made our laws and managed our angling resources. There were no magazines devoted to fly fishing. There were very few books written about fly fishing. You had to be living in a major city in order to have access to a fly fishing shop. If you were a fly tier, you were probably self-taught from basic instructions in one of the three or four fly fishing books in print at the time. And you had to order your materials from catalog descriptions. The really accomplished fly tiers were rare, and most of those were tying professionally full or part-time, and typically they jealously guarded their methods.

Fly rods and tackle in general had changed very little for fifty years. After World War II fiberglass rods were being manufactured but that technology was in its infancy. The big tackle boom was in spinning rods and reels which originated in Europe. Fly fishing was such a small specialized market that it comprised a very small part of the production of the major fishing tackle manufacturers.

All this began to change in 1965. The FFF was founded for the purpose of getting fly fishing clubs linked together in common purpose to promote fly fishing as a favored method of angling and to give fly fishermen a unified voice in the management of our angling resources. Its leaders adopted Lee Wulff’s maxim that, “A good game fish is too valuable to be caught only once.” The FFF waged the fight to establish the principle of catch-and-release.

Another purpose of the FFF was to publish a magazine devoted entirely to fly fishing. No publisher was willing to risk a publishing venture on a market presumed to be so small. With the publication of The Flyfisher in 1968 we had the first magazine exclusively for fly fishing. After the FFF had shown what the potential market could become, commercial fly fishing magazines began to appear.

When the McKenzie Flyfishers organized the original Conclave of Flyfishers in 1965 they established the paradigm for all FFF conclaves which have followed. It would be based on education, information sharing and outreach. It would finally shatter the shell of exclusivity which surrounded this sport in the public mind. The most famous and revered anglers in America would come to these annual gatherings and freely give their time and knowledge. The fly tying demonstrations at FFF conclaves soon attracted tiers from everywhere. Tiers which had been working in isolation for many years were soon coming into contact with one another and sharing methods and ideas. This initiated a fly tying renaissance which continues to this day.

From the nucleus of a dozen or so clubs represented at the first conclave, FFF members have gone out and organized many hundreds of fly fishing clubs throughout the United States, Canada and many other countries throughout the world. The growth of FFF during the 1970s brought forth a corresponding growth in the fly tackle industry bringing an exponential increase in the availability and quality of fly fishing tackle of all description. This growth has been paralleled in the publishing industry which now churns out more magazines, books and videos than anyone could have imagined forty years ago.

Anyone engaged in fly fishing today has benefited in many ways from what the FFF has done and continues to do. The availability of high quality and relatively inexpensive equipment in an astonishing range of choice would not be possible without the growth of the sport which the FFF has fostered. Your fly fishing club would most probably not exist if not for the FFF. The proliferation of fly fishing shows is mostly the result of FFF activity to promote the sport and extend knowledge. Anyone who has attended the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo has the FFF to thank for the experience.

If you fish in Oregon, you can thank the FFF for the fact that efforts to eliminate all regulations restricting certain waters to fly fishing were defeated by the Oregon Council, FFF. If you enjoy the improved fishing on catch-and-release waters, you owe it to the FFF. The fact that fly fishing is now taken quite seriously by the ODFW is the result of efforts by members of the Oregon Council.

In conclusion, when asked by someone what the FFF does for him, turn the question around and ask him what he is prepared to do to continue the work of those who have gone before him, and who created the improved climate for the sport he enjoys today. The very least one should do is to join the organization and thereby help to build a strong membership base which will enable the FFF to remain a strong force in conserving, restoring and educating through fly fishing.

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Casting Mechanics

Courtesy of Dusty Sprague

Principles in Casting

Tension against the rod tip. Before you bend (load) the rod, you should have line tension against the tip by removing slack. The weight of line extended beyond the rod tip will hold back the tip, causing the rod to load.

Accelerate to an abrupt stop. You must bend, then straighten the rod to make the cast. Accelerating the hand using smooth, constant acceleration results in a steady increase in rod tip speed. When the rod is stopped, the momentum of the line carries the line on, rolling a loop of line off the rod tip.

The line goes where the tip goes. The rod tip controls the line — the line goes in the direction the tip is traveling when the rod tip is stopped.

Variables in Casting – must be adjusted for each length of line to be cast

Hand speed – rod bend. Smoothly accelerating the hand results in rod bend and line speed. Adequate hand speed straightens the line at the desired distance or the fly reaches the target with the desired shape in the line, as in an “S” cast. Varying hand speed with a constant angular rotation of the rod changes the size of the line loop.

Stroke length. The distance traveled by the hand during the casting stroke, from beginning of distinct acceleration to the stop. The length of the stroke varies with the amount of line being cast – for a short cast use a short stroke – for longer cast use a longer stroke.

Rod Arc – Angular Rotation. The angle between the rod shaft at the beginning of distinct, continuous acceleration and the stop position. The width of the angle varies with the amount hand speed (rod bend) to maintain a relatively straight path of the rod tip. For short casts use little rod bend and narrow angular rotation; for longer casts use more rod bend and wider angular rotation. Varying the angular rotation of the rod with a constant hand speed changes the shape of the line loop – wide, narrow, tailing loops. Angular rotation should be tilted forward to cast at close ranges and more level with the surface to cast at more distant targets.

Timing. The pause between strokes. Good timing – adequate pause – is long enough to allow the line to straighten fully without losing its tension and falling dramatically.

A straight path of the rod tip will produce a narrow loop of line

You’ll get a straight path of the rod tip if you match rod arc with rod bend using smooth, constant acceleration during the casting stroke.

Use enough hand speed to straighten the length of line you have extended beyond the rod tip.

While false casting, adjust the rod arc, by narrowing or widening the arc, to match the bend in the rod.

You’ll know when you have the correct match by looking at the size and shape of the loop — a narrow loop indicates a good match.

Tilt the casting arc forward – stopping lower in front and higher, more vertical in back, to cast at closer targets. Use an arc more level with the water for more distant targets.

A wide loop indicates either too little rod bend (too little hand speed) for the rod arc you are using, or, too wide a rod arc for the bend you are putting into the rod. To narrow the loops, narrow the rod arc or increase the bend in the rod.

A tailing loop, often producing knots in the leader, results from a concave path of the rod tip – lower in the middle than at each end of the arc – often caused by applying power abruptly and using a rod arc too narrow for the rod bend applied. Smoothly increase hand speed during the casting stroke.

Superb casters (as compared to good casters):

Straighten the line more completely on the backcast, with less line sag.
Smoothly accelerate the rod tip along a straighter path
Stop the rod more abruptly

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Line Ratings

Information Courtesy of Capt

Fly rods are classified by line weights, a designation of how strong the rod is. Your choice of rod weight will be dictated by two items:

1) The size of the fish you will fight and need to lift to the surface or…

2) The size fly you will need to cast.

Choose the heavier rod from the two choices. For instance tarpon flies are small and can easily be cast on a rod too light to fight the fish.

The most common in-shore rod ratings used are 7-8 & 9 weight rods. These rods weights will handle most sea breeze winds so you can make a cast and are sufficient to subdue most common fish such as trout, redfish, snook, bonefish, spanish mackerel etc. The fly fisherman who chases tarpon will commonly use a 10 weight rod for smaller back country fish and will want a 12 weight rod when fishing the spring migration of adult fish of 100+ pounds.

AFFTMA (American Fly Fishing Tackle Manufactures Association) has an established standard for line ratings based on the weight of the first 30 feet of the fly line in grains.

Rods are rated based on how well the rod casts 30 feet (9.1 M) of designated fly line outside the tip of the rod. This standard has gotten a little “fuzzy” over time since fly rods are now capable of casting more line. It has been suggested that manufactures now label a rods weight on how well it casts 40 – 50 feet of line or more. Today it is not uncommon to “up-line” a rod by using a line one weight heavier than the rods designation, especially if most of your casts are short.

Dual rated rods handle more that one line weight (as all rods can). They once were more common but are still found today, usually on less expensive rods. Which line is used on dual rated rods depends on the distance of your typical cast i.e.…less than or greater than 30 feet.

Line Weight Ratings in Grains – AFFTA

1 60 + OR – 6 GRAINS
2 80 + OR – 6 GRAINS
3 100 + OR – 6 GRAINS
4 120 + OR – 6 GRAINS
5 140 + OR – 6 GRAINS
6 160 + OR – 8 GRAINS
7 185 + OR – 8 GRAINS
8 210 + OR – 8 GRAINS
9 240 + OR – 10 GRAINS
10 280 + OR – 10 GRAINS
11 330 + OR – 12 GRAINS
12 380 + OR – 12 GRAINS
13 450 + OR – 15 GRAINS
14 500 + OR – 15 GRAINS
15 550 + OR – 15 GRAINS

Note: 1 Grain = 64.8 milligrams

All rods must be able to handle a wide variety of line weights while casting. Let’s take a 6 wt. fly rod as an example. Per AFFTA, the first 30′ of a 6 weight fly line is 160 grains. If you are casting with half that much or only 15′ of fly line it would weight only 80 grains which is equal to only a two weight line. What happens when you make a distance cast to 70 feet? We know that the first 30′ of our 6 weight line weighs 160 grains, but carrying another 40 feet of running line in the air (at approximately 3 grains per foot x 40 feet = another 120 grains) for a total weight of 280 grains of fly line. That is equal to casting a 10 weight!

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Labeling Line

By Tom Herrington – Taken from the Historic Ocean Springs Flyfishing Club Newsletter

Have you ever forgotten what fly line is on which fly reel? Do you want an even more secure connection for the ends of your fly lines?

There are many reasons that you want to label your fly line after it comes off the retail packaged spool:
• You have a fly line that is your best line for casting but you have forgotten exactly what kind it is. Is it S/A Saltwater? S/A Saltwater Redfish? Cortland 555? Or Wulff Bermuda Blue Triangle Taper?
• You have stored a fly line in a container, and now you cannot remember which type line it is or what weight.
• You cannot remember a weight of a line on a reel.
• You travel to a great destination and when you get there you realize that you have three reels with three different lines. Which one is which weight?
• You have changed lines and have stored the line that you have taken off onto another spool but have forgotten to label the line and now, months later you want to use it?

There are many, many more reasons for wanting your lines labeled and I am sure you can think of at least as many. My personal reasons encompass all of the above reasons especially the confusion when traveling.

For a while Cortland labeled some of their lines, actually opting to laser print along the line itself. What a great idea, but for some reason it did not catch on with other line manufacturers probably because of the added expense to the line manufacturer.

With the advent of preparation for my annual sabbatical to Key West, I was determined to do something about it. Sure I had marked my lines with little lines for weight—at least all the light colored lines—you know, three little marks for the three weight line, a wider mark representing a 5 weight, a wider mark and three small marks representing an 8 wt., and so on. But, I had no clue which lines were which and forget about the black sinking lines and heads.

At one time my favorite line was a baby blue Cortland 444. My reason was that when the fish looked up he could not see the line against the blue sky. Now nearly all if not all manufacturers have baby blue or sky blue lines so how can you tell the difference on the fly reel. Heaven forbid if you ever take the fly line off the reel. I needed and wanted some way to mark my lines where I would not only know the weight of the line but the type and brand. An internet search revealed the answer.

I am now labeling my lines with heat shrink tubes. Most of the tubes shrink to 1/2 the diameter so if you wish to label the line at say the loop which serves also as added security, you would want to use an 1/8″ diameter tube that will shrink to fit the fly line and over the nail knots snugly. Try your local hardware store for heat shrink tubes or check out http://cableorganizer.com/

I bought the DYMO RhinoPro 3000 printer with 1/4″ shrink tube cartridge, a Black and Decker heat shrink gun, and an extra pack of assorted shrink tubes (TT74900) as it contains different colors and sizes including clear shrink tubes.

I use the latter ¼” clear tube for labeling black or clear lines and although those tubes can’t be labeled using the labeler, I label them with a Sharpie; then shrink them. Works like a champ.

If you use it on both ends of the line, where you have already formed loops for connections, it works really well, but even using the tubes on the front end over the nail knot connection makes for what I think to be an even more secure connection. Well worth trying.

For minimal investment (if you still aren’t convinced) buy just the assorted shrink tubes, label with a Sharpie, and use a hair dryer to shrink the tube.

Match the tube color with the fly line color.

You can also taper the ends of the tube by trimming with a razor or Exacto knife at an angle before shrinking.

I wonder how I can use these shrink tubes in fly tying …. Hmmmmmmm.

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