Posts Tagged With: outdoor blogger network

Bamboopalooza, Part II: Fall River Rods “South Fork” Meets Your Grandfather’s Rod

There are some very nice bamboo fly rods being made today, by craftspeople every bit as talented and innovative as famous rod builders of the past, but one of the things that attracts many anglers to old, used, bamboo fly rods is that they are old and have been used. The workmanship of the builder ensures their durability, and many rods made as far back as the early 1900s, or even earlier, still see service today. Part of the fascination they hold is the thought that they have stories to tell. How could a rod that has been fished for 50 or 75 or even 100 years not have stories to tell?

Those old rods were once brand new and, like the anglers who cast them, they acquired their patina over time, little by little, cast by cast. Every outing adds another page to the story and this is one page near the beginning of one rod’s story.

The Outdoor Blogger Network teamed up with Fall River Rods, Montana Fly Company and RIO Products this spring to put together a rig consisting of an 8ft, 2-piece, 5wt “South Fork” bamboo rod, Madison reel, and double taper, floating line to be fished by 15 far-flung anglers over the course of the season. One of those 15 anglers will own the rod, reel, and line when all is said and done, along with an accompanying journal in which all 15 anglers will record their thoughts and experiences during their time with the rod. With a first season like that, the story of this brand new rod is off to a very good start.

My time with the Fall River Rods “South Fork” is over. I’ve written my journal entry and sent the whole shebang on its way to the next lucky angler on the list. It’s a great rod to fish with and a lot of fun to cast but, as I discovered, some of the best qualities of bamboo shine brightest away from the water.

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Categories: Fly Fishing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Bamboopalooza, Part 1: Fall River Flyrods “South Fork” is Not Your Grandfather’s Rod

The Outdoor Blogger Network announced on March 1st that Fall River Flyrods was building a custom bamboo rod to be fished by 15 anglers over the course of the season, with one of the 15 owning that rod when all was said and done. The lucky 15 were chosen at random from over 100 interested anglers, which worked out well for me because I am much better at random chance than well-developed skill.

Montana Fly Company provided a 5/6 wt Madison II reel, with a beautiful “River Rock” finish, and RIO Products chipped in with their Trout LT DT5F fly line to complete the outfit. I would like to thank Fall River Flyrods, Montana Fly Company and RIO Products for giving me and 14 other anglers the opportunity to play with this rig, and I would especially like to thank Joe and Rebecca for all the hard work and dedication they have put into making The Outdoor Blogger Network the great place it has become. Over 1000 Outdoor Bloggers, all connected together for your reading pleasure. Imagine that.

I would also like to point out that I have no connections with Fall River Fly Rods, Montana Fly Company, or RIO Products. Except for the chance to fish with this rod, reel, and line, I received nothing other than a great time, good memories, and a chance to connect with a wonderful bunch of outdoor bloggers.

Fall River Flyrods “South Fork”

There was a time when fly rods were made from glued strips of wood, such as ash and lancewood. Exceptionally long, and requiring two hands to cast, those rods were heavy and cumbersome. Rods made from split cane bamboo were shorter and lighter, bamboo was relatively plentiful, and in 1874, H.L. Leonard began making bamboo rods exclusively. A trade embargo on Chinese imports in 1950, along with the development of modern synthetic materials, pretty much ended large-scale bamboo rod production but a number of makers continue the tradition, producing custom rods that are not only beautiful but also make use of the best qualities of the long fibers of bamboo.

An entire generation or more has learned to fly fish using synthetics, and the trend has been toward lighter, faster rods, especially of graphite and boron, that load and have most of their power in the upper third of their length. Traditional bamboo rods are heavier, slower, and flex deeply, well into their lower third. Hand a bamboo rod to someone used to fishing rods made of modern materials and, at the very least, you will get a funny, puzzled look as they try to figure out what the heck just happened to their cast. Most will eventually catch on and settle into the rhythm of bamboo but they will more than likely say it is much too heavy and slow for them.

Jason Zicha, of Fall River Rods in Pocatello, Idaho, has created tapers for the rods he makes that more closely mimic the action of graphite, loading quickly and flexing toward the tip, like the “South Fork” model currently making its way around the country as part of a project put together by the Outdoor Blogger Network. Fifteen anglers will be giving this rod a workout (and a history) through the season and writing about it on their blogs, as well as adding their thoughts to the journal that is travelling with it. This is Part One of my experience with that rod. Continue reading

Categories: Fly Fishing, Product and Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Snow Wraiths

The Outdoor Blogger Network’s most recent photo prompt is “The Look of Winter.” A week ago I would have posted a photo of brown woods and green ice. Today, I post this:

Fish in a Barrel Pond, January 13, 2012


One 1250th of a second. A random snippet of time, an instant, now long gone — never to occur again — but preserved forever in cyber space. Weird.

That image says something, conveys a feeling, suggests a mood, but it is just one tiny note in an opus. This little opus here is a bit more than 150,000 notes long:


Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Outdoor Blogger Network Gear Review: A Box of Stuff from Joe

(This assignment is overdue. The items in this review arrived in September, which is now known in these parts as “the month we spent cleaning up after That Bitch, Irene“. I was concerned enough when the package arrived to open it right away but it has taken until now to post my review. Excuses? Which ones do you want to hear? I’ve got a million of ’em.)

Baseball is a contest of skill. Consequently, I was no good at it, so when a contest comes along that involves nothing more than dumb chance, I’m in. Such was the case late last summer when Joe Wolf from the Outdoor Blogger Network announced he was moving and wanted to shed some of his accumulated stuff. Some sucker lucky winner would be chosen, at random, to receive a box of that stuff, which Joe promised would be appropriate. My best effort turned out to be good enough, and I won!

I was a little worried when Boogie, our Rural Mail Carrier, dropped the package at the door, my first thought being, “Oh, no! My new puppy!”

I was very relieved, but more than a little disappointed, to find the box did not contain a puppy. Continue reading

Categories: Product and Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

A Mayfly, Up Close and Personal

I took a bunch of pictures yesterday and, as usual, found myself wondering what I would ever do with them. Thanks to Rebecca and her photo prompt at the Outdoor Blogger Network, I have an excuse to post a couple.

Transparent Mayfly

I still haven’t figured out how to tie a transparent mayfly imitation but I am pretty sure a lot of the rises I saw last evening were to these guys (and gals). Of course, I only say that because I couldn’t see a darn thing on or in the water, even though I was surrounded by rises.

I did get some enthusiastic refusals of a #18 sulfur spinner, though. It is August, the time of long leaders and tiny flies.

Tight lines, y’all.



Categories: Fly Fishing, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Not Likely to be Framed: An Outdoor Blogger Network Photo Prompt

(A photo prompt from the Outdoor Blogger Network: The photo least likely to be framed and hung on the wall.)

I click the shutter button a lot and, most of the time, my pictures look pretty good.

A Newt

Sometimes I will review the contents of my camera’s memory card and come across a shot that makes me wonder just what the heck was going on when I took it.


Sometimes I will take a picture because of the unique point of view or to look at something from an unusual or uncommon angle, figuring “well, as long as I’m down here …”

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Photography has come a long way since I started taking pictures with that old Kodak Instamatic and those throw-away flash cubes. I have done my best to keep up with the latest advances and have fully embraced digital technology to take, sort, edit and share my photos but I’m telling you, if I live to be a hundred and ten, I don’t think I will ever get the hang of taking pictures with a phone.

I Can't Talk and Take Pictures at the Same Time

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Return of the Shack Nasties

Coming down with a case of the Shack Nasties is a gradual thing. Fortitude and stoicism delay the inevitable, slowing its progress for a time, but sooner or later the Shack Nasties set in. I’ve had them before, I have them now, and I will have them again but these, too, shall pass.

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Categories: nature, Rural Life, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shappell Jet Sled — Review

Shappell Jet Sled 1 –ATC (All Terrain Camo)
25″ beam x 54″ long x 10″ deep
Approx. 15 pounds

$54.99 from Shappell Corporation

My job involves a fair amount of lugging stuff (chainsaws, traps, trail maintenance tools & materials, etc.) and a lot of that stuff gets lugged in and out of the trees at the far end of the lake. I don’t cross the ice to get there, though; I take to the woods, working in the trees and the streams along the way, along a loop that covers close to two miles. Limited to what I can carry on my back or in my hands, I sometimes make several trips for one project or just tough it out, setting things down and switching hands every hundred yards.

I’ve looked at plastic toboggans and plans for homemade rigs to help transport gear but they have seemed flimsy, narrow and prone to tipping or weighed more than the stuff I need to haul. Enter Shappell Jet Sleds and the chance to try one out for myself, through a random drawing at the Outdoor Blogger Network.

Officially, this is a Shappell Jet Sled 1 – ATC (All Terrain Camo) and it is absolutely not flimsy. The polyethylene tub is rigid and light-weight. It also has a wide stance and looks to be stable, but if anyone is capable of dumping a load of gear in the snow it is me, especially with a product that has “All Terrain” right in its name. Let’s see how it does on the loop around my home waters. Continue reading

Categories: Product and Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

In a Rut, But at Least I Have Crumpets

(If you stopped by hoping for a fishing story, perhaps you’ll enjoy this: “Fishing Hurts”)

It is easy to get stuck in a rut this time of year. The hours of daylight may be increasing but winter is just getting started and spring seems a long way off. Most years we get a bit of a break from the cold and snow when the “January Thaw” sets in and temperatures climb to above freezing for a few days but this brief warm spell is one gift horse I always look straight in the mouth.

Thawing means melting. Ice and snow change to water and dirt turns to mud. If that dirt happens to be a road, things can get interesting fast, especially with fuel trucks, UPS vans and people from other places driving back and forth. Most of the people from other places this year are from New Jersey, renting a house up the hill during ski season. I don’t know where they are headed four and five times a day — there just ain’t much to do in our little village — but up and down they go, making a real mess of things but mid-winter thaws are temporary. Cold weather returns and the road freezes again, leaving the rest of us to deal with the tracks those people made while we (wisely) stayed home.

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Categories: Humor, Rural Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“The Kind of Surprise I Like” or, “A Package for Quill”

My recent post “On Thin Ice” was my submission to a writing contest sponsored by the good folks at Outdoor Blogger Network and Sportsman Channel. The theme of the contest was “Winter Travel” and the winner was Mark Dillow with his fine entry “Frozen in Time”. Congratulations, Mark!

My friend Owl Jones received special attention for his entry “Winter Scouting on Murphy’s Mountain”. I still laugh just thinking about it. To quote the judges regarding Owl’s literary contribution, “… this story is crazy!” Nicely done, Owl. You may have a cookie now.

My entry was noticed for its creativity and the contrast between the fantasy image of living on an island compared to the stark reality thereof. In recognition, I was promised a “special surprise” and it arrived, via UPS, yesterday afternoon. 

One thing I learned while surviving the events that inspired “On Thin Ice” — other than the fact that, when people walk by me holding one of those tropical drinks with the little umbrellas, it’s a struggle to not slap it out of their hand — was to not take living on or at least near a real road for granted, even if that road is presently a long series of frozen, twisted ruts.

It’s taking a toll, all this violent lurching and banging around. Tie rods, ball joints and headlights get broken and knocked askew and I’m considering a helmet and mouthpiece for myself if we don’t get some good snow to pack down and even things out. All four of my cheap hub caps are badly cracked (only three actually remain on the vehicle) and even the UPS guy is bombing around with a broken leaf spring. I could hear him a mile away as he clattered his way up the hill. The ruckus he raised when he pulled into the dooryard scattered cats and shook the knick-knack shelf but that’s okay because as I stood on the porch waving good-bye I remembered a time when I had to wait seven weeks and cross a mile and a half of ice just to get to the Post Office.

If there’s one thing I like more than getting packages it is opening them and this one was full of surprises. To start with, there was a very nice note from Michelle Scheuermann, Director of Communications for Sportsman Channel. She wrote the note by hand and even used her very best, fancy stationery!

Next was a most thoughtful gift. Many of my Vermont friends would call it a strip of “fender patch” or “muffler fix”. I once saw an entire car seemingly held together with this stuff (please see “Fishing Hurts”) and I think it might be the ticket for joining two pieces of broken hub cap but, with history as my guide, I’d hate for my last glimpse of it to be in the rear-view mirror as it sailed off the downhill side of Rte. 155. No, I think the best place for it is here, on the wall, where I can gaze upon it in at leisure and in comfort.

But wait, there’s more! A T-shirt promoting Sportsman Channel and Sportsmen Against Hunger. “HUNT FISH FEED” it reads, encouraging utilization of our natural food resources. I think it’s a great idea and I’m all for it. The shirt is size L, which was me an X or two ago, so it looks like Mrs. Gordon is getting a new nightie for Christmas! Of course, I could give it to my friend, Eugene, who often finds a change of clothes to be in order (please see “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”).

Beneath the nice note, the fender patch and Mrs. Gordon’s new nightie was a hat, and not just any hat, either. This hat has the Sportsman Channel logo embroidered  on the front, is adjustable and extra spiffy. When I wear it to town the guys will ask “Is that a new hat, Quill?” and I will answer “Yes. Yes it is” and they will say ” ‘Bout darn time!” Not only that, the hat is black and will absorb solar radiation, keeping my brain warm when I go around the corner of the barn to sit in the sun, out of the wind.

The last item in the box made me wonder how they knew I like a hot beverage when I go around the corner of the barn to sit in the sun, out of the wind. My new Sportsman Channel insulated mug will be with me and if I decide to take that beverage somewhere with me in the truck, I don’t know how they guessed the size, but my new mug fits perfectly into the holder I already have! Now I can just set my mug down instead of holding it in my lap or saying to my passenger, “Here, hold my drink and watch this!”

Many thanks to Michelle Scheuermann at Sportsman Channel for the chance to write for goodies and to Joe and Rebecca for everything they are doing with Outdoor Blogger Network.

And now, here is a fishing story you might enjoy: “The Buddy System”

Categories: +Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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