Review: Scott Radian R10044 Fly Rod

Review: Scott Radian R10044 Fly Rod: Recently I slapped down the magic plastic card and purchased something new – a 10-foot, 4-weight, 4 piece fly rod. I’ll talk more about why I bought it in a moment, but lets begin with a closeup look at this Scott Radian R10044 fly rod.

Review: Scott Radian R10044 Fly Rod

Man, this is a handsome rod. Right out of the tube you’re hit with eye candy, something you can’t say about some other high-end fly rods. There is a lot of attention to detail. And given the cost of upper level fly rods today, its something we should expect. Even the box the tube came in is attractive. Scott delivered their “A” game.

Review: Scott Radian R10044 fly rod

The blank is grey, unsanded, and sports tungsten framed stripping guides. It has a nicely formed 6.5 inch full wells grip, and the cork is the finest I’ve ever seen. I mean it; the cork is flawless. No other rod in my collection even comes close. Impressive. The reel seat is a single, uplocking design with an exotic wood insert. Wraps are grey, accented with a hot orange band. Yes indeed, the ferrules have alignment dots. The rod sock is attractively embroidered with the company name. Tube length is 32.5″. And rod tips the scales at 3 ounces, respectable for a 10-foot 4 piece wand.

A new and useful feature, found only on Scott rods I believe, is measurement marks. As the red arrows note in the photo below, they’re at 12″ & 20″.  A handy dandy reference, that. I’ve already used them in the field, although the 20″ mark hasn’t quite been reached yet. LOL Hope to change that soon.

Scott Radian Measurement Marks @ 12″ & 20″

So why a 10- foot 4-weight?  Well, the 4-weight part is a no brainer. I’ve spent over 50 years behind a fly rod, so perspective is something I have. Back when I started in the sport, a 6wt fly rod was considered the best general purpose trout rod. Yes I’m talking back when fiberglass ruled. With the advent of graphite in the 1970’s, a shift slowly occurred, and by the 1980’s a 5wt worn the crown. Nowadays, the 4wt fly rod is emerging as king of the hill – the one stick to do it all in small to medium rivers.

Okay, there’s still a 900 pound gorilla in the room. Why a 10-footer? Several years ago I tried euro-nymphing with the longest rod I owned – a 10-foot, 6-weight. Unfortunately I lost the tip section in the woods one night while walking back to the car. That ended my brief euro-nymphing career. But I’ve long wanted to try again. Hence the 10-footer.

At this point, you wondering why I got a conventional 10-footer and not a longer rod specifically designed for euro-nymphing. After all there are plenty on the market, right? I did go into a Upcountry Sportfishing and wiggle several “euro-rods” from $200-$ 900. They were all nice. Yet in the end I decided a conventional 10-foot, 4-weight would “nymph” just fine and be a far more versatile fly rod, capable of also handling dries, soft hackles, and even small streamers. So I took a couple such rods outside, and cast them for a time. The Radian was the winner.

This rod went along on my recent trip to the upper Connecticut river (previous post). Armed with a 10′ butt section,  a 2′ euro-nymph “sighter”, and a 4′ foot 5x tippet, the rod cleaned house. It was so effective at “nymphing” I fished it pretty much exclusively for 4 days, accounting for all the bigger fish.

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The Connecticut River’s Trophy Stretch

The Connecticut River’s Trophy Stretch: In the previous post I mentioned that the Connecticut River’s Trophy Stretch is only a stones throw from Lopstick Lodge in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. Okay we’re ready now to delve more into the fly-fishing you’ll find in these attractive northern waters. Lets go.

The Connecticut River’s Trophy Stretch

The Trophy Stretch begins at the dam on First Connecticut Lake. This is a bottom release tailwater fishery that extends downstream to Lake Francis, some 2.5 miles away. All of it is productive water. And public access is good overall, with some spots requiring a walk in the woods.

Dam Releases: Like all tailwater fisheries, dam releases greatly affect the fishing. The ideal, and most common level during the prime spring season is 150 cfs. You can find the dam release levels at this link. Check before you head up, and even after you arrive. The front desk at the lodge will know the release schedule.

Gear: Hip boots are adequate in many spots, but chest waders are better overall. At 150 cfs, the wading is the fairly easy, although I still suggest felt soles. If you fish up by the dam, however, cleats are a major help. Even at 150 cfs, the water in the gorge is swift, and the bottom extremely slick. A wading staff makes mucho sense too. Be careful.

An 8′ 6″ 4 or 5 weight fly rod is ideal for the Trophy Stretch, although longer rods are useful when nymphing. Floating fly lines and 9′ leaders tapered to 4x are standard, but at times, especially when fishing dries, 5x tippets are better, and a few folks go to 6x.

The Connecticut River’s Trophy Stretch

Season: Weather permitting, late May can be very good, but June to mid-July is considered prime time in the Trophy Stretch. The majority of the fish you’ll encounter are small, stocked rainbows. They’re everywhere, but don’t be fooled.  Mixed in with them are much larger rainbows and brook trout, some in the 2-4 pound class. And all of these fish are supplemented by wild, native fish traveling upstream from Lake Francis. During the cooler months, these migrants include a fair number of landlocked salmon, typically ranging in size from 12″ to 20″.

Landlocked Salmon

It isn’t necessary to hit the stream at the crack of dawn or stay until dark, for that matter. The trout bite all day long. So after breakfast, free feel to lounge on the cabin porch with a second cup of Joe. If you’re gunning for the biggest trout, however, its best to be on the water early and late in the day. And that goes for the landlocks too, and they are a hoot, believe me!

The net bag pictured above is 19″ long, and so is this salmon. Streamers are effective for salmon, no question, still day-in-out nymphs are, in my opinion, more deadly. Don’t like to nymph? Soft hackles wets are very good as well. (trout love’em too) Will the landlocks take a dry? Yes, in fact, these silver rockets can grab it so fast, they are back down with the fly before you realize it. Next thing you know, they’re somersaulting across the pool.

Fly Selection: A lot of flies work in the Trophy Stretch, but here’s a short list of some favorites. Dry Flies: 14-16# tan Caddis, 18-20# Blue Wing Olives, 14-18 Cahills, 10-8# Stimulators (yellow belly), and most terrestrials patterns. Wets: San Juan worms in red, pink or even white. Soft Hackles: 12-14# Partridge & Orange or Partridge & Green (I like both with bead heads). Nymphs: 12-16# Bead Head Caddis Pupa in tan or green, 12-14# Prince nymphs, 14-16# Copper Johns, 14-16# Pheasant Tails, 10-12# Black and Yellow Stone Flies. Streamers: Woolly Buggers, Muddlers, Grey Ghosts, and other traditional landlock streamers (including lesser known ones like the Brown Owl, and the “88”).

Other Area Waters: Once you’re up here you have other waters to investigate. Back Lake is just down the road and has a Hex hatch towards the end of June. You’ll need a canoe, a kayak, or a belly boat. Those same crafts, however, will also allow you to fish several area trout ponds. Ask the lodge for directions. And there is a tailwater fishery below Murphy Dam on Lake Francis. It’s home to some of the largest trout in the Northeast.

PS: If you bring split shot be sure its the eco-friendly stuff. No lead shot allowed. And please practice catch & release, especially with those large fish. Return them to the water so other anglers can enjoy them too.

 

 

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Fishing Off The Grid

Fishing off the Grid: Decided to do a little fishing off the grid..that’s right amigo, no cell phone, no land line, no web, just good, old fashion peace and quiet. Remember that? So at the start of the week, my friend Joan and I pointed the car at Lopstick Lodge in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. I’ve been there many times, and always enjoyed it. Hey, live free or die.

Fishing Off the Grid

Lopstick sits at tip of the Granite State. Yes, its way up north, on the Canadian line. To get there you’ll likely have to cross the 45th parallel. And once you do, you’re closer to Santa Claus than you are to Jimmy Buffet. Now you’re in the Great North Woods, a land of lakes and rivers, forest and mountains, moose and bear. Did I mention there are trout and landlocked salmon as well?

Fishing off the Grid

The cabins perch on a hillside with a scenic view of First Connecticut Lake. Good people, great place to be. You’ll have a wide variety of accommodation from which to choose. Want a small cozy cabin? Need something a tad bigger, say a two bedroom place? Or perhaps you prefer a large comfortable home? Well, take your pick, my friend, and make a reservation. Lopstick has it all.

The Cabins at Lopstick

Cozy Cabin

The upper Connecticut River is a stones throw away. You can practically roll out the door and make a cast. I suggest an 8′ 6″, 4 or 5 weight fly rod. Should work just fine, but it never hurts to bring a rod selection. Frankly I always drag three or four with me. This trip I had a new rod, a 10-foot, 4wt to do some tight-line nymphing. Very effective, that. Hip boots will do, although chest waders are my choice. Both need felt soles, however. Bring your dry fly box, of course, but don’t expect thick hatches. Wets, soft hackles, streamers and nymphs do the yeoman’s work. And the lodge has a fly shop where you can learn what’s hot, and what’s not, and then fill your fly box.

Below First Connecticut Lake lies the Trophy Stretch. It’s a tailwater fishery. Cold and clear, the water rumbles from the dam, tumbles through a short, steep gorge and then levels out. For the next 2.5 miles, the river is fly-fishing only. Here the Connecticut winds through deep forest, the river narrow, and rarely very deep. Along the way, expect willing rainbow trout to occupy every twist and turn. They’re numerous, brightly colored, although small for the most part. Still, big “bows” are hiding here too. Keep casting and you’ll find them. Brown trout, on the other hand, are far less common, but grow to prodigious size. Native brookies range from 12″ to 3 pounds. During the cooler months of spring and fall, landlocked salmon lurk here as well, varying from small to good size. They fight like demons.

Okay for now. In the next post, I’ll tell you more about this wonderful place.

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Ravens are returning to Connecticut

Ravens are returning to Connecticut:  Yes, ravens are returning to Connecticut. How long have they been gone? A long ass time, my friend – perhaps over a 100 years. Most likely our colonial forefathers did a number on them just as they had done with the wolf and the mountain lion. They were all viewed as either dangerous or pests.

It was ten, twelve years ago, when I first became aware that ravens were returning. It happened one morning the Farmington River, in New Hartford, Connecticut. Out of the forest came that unmistakable voice.  Instantly I knew what it was. In most minds, the mighty moose and the black bear are emblematic of the Great North Woods. If you have spent any time up there,however, you ‘d want to add the smell of balsam and the call of the raven. At least I would. So to hear a raven in Connecticut was very cool and totally unexpected. I tipped my hat toward the trees. Welcomed back Corvus corax. It good to have you in town.

After that, on occasion I would see one during the winter months in Wethersfield. Not many mind you, but here and there. Crows love to flock together; ravens prefer, however, to work solo or in pairs. Then a few days ago, I was reminded again. While fishing, I heard another raven speak. Yes, no question they are returning to Connecticut.

Visually separating them from crows is not always easy task. They are both similar in appearance, especially from a distance. Yet, there other ways to separate them. The common crow’s call is rather simple. The classic caw,caw,caw. Ravens, on the other hand, have a distinctive voice, delivering a mix of gurgles, croaks, and grunts, as well as high pitched alarms that carry for miles. On the wing the raven stand out too. Crows fly like an old man rowing, in a slow steady, straight ahead pace. Ravens are powerful aloft, true acrobats, soaring, diving, and even barrel-rolling. They are a hoot to watch. Lets hope they’re here to stay.

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Dry Flies can be a Problem

Dry Flies can be a Problem: Dry flies are a super part of our sport. Not one can deny that. But if you love dry flies too much, dry flies can be a problem.

I was on the river early this morning, working a team of nymphs through some promising water. Things were slow. Which was a bit surprising given the day before this spot had been red hot. But we all have experienced that stuff. Different days often supply different fishing.

Downstream from me a guy was working a dry fly. Awhile later he strolled off to explore new waters. I fished on. After an hour, he reappeared and struck up a conversation. It went like this.

Dry Flies can be a Problem

“Anything doing,” he inquired?

“Got one,” I replied.

“Been here six times this season already and have yet to catch a single fish!” he exclaimed with disgust.

“Did Okay here yesterday,” I added. “There’s fish here believe me.”

“Catch’em on nymphs,” he asked?

“Yeah, its the best method on this river.”

“I don’t fish nymphs,” he shot back. “a fish on a dry is more fun that a fish on a nymph. Don’t you agree?”

“Yeah…but a fish on nymph is more fun than no fish on a dry,” I answered.

“Maybe,” he said looking off.

Then asked me if I fished here often. I said no, adding I was just up from Florida for the summer. Next he wanted to know if I fly-fished the salt in Florida. Yes, I told him, inquiring if he fished in the salt too. His answer was no. I kind of figured that, but dug deeper.

“Why not,” I asked?

“Those saltwater flies aren’t really flies….their lures,” he informed me.

“Your Adams dry is a lure too, ” I told him.

At that he shrugged his shoulders and slowly walked off to his car. I guess I hadn’t made my point. Man oh man, dry flies can be a problem. Amigo, the bitter war between Halford and Skues lives on even today.

 

 

 

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