There are many great qualities about catfish. Mainly they’re absolutely delicious. Fried or grilled I’ll take fresh catfish any day of the week!*
This brings us to a topic I’d like to discuss/think about more at a later time. That is cleaning and cooking your catch. Catfish make that aspect of fishing extremely rewarding! It’s one of the greatest perks of being an angler.
Not to mention there are many legends who’ve come before us (relatives, friends, preachers?) to perfect their catfish recipes.
We all can only aspire to one day earn the title of “Catfish Preacher”
Pictured Top left: Brother Windsor who catches and cooks catfish from the Tallapoosa River to hold an annual fish fry at a rural church in Chambers County, AL
The probability that a warm water fly fisherman reading the title to this post is going cross-eyed in bewilderment is very high.
“You’re complaining about catching catfish on a fly rod?!”
“You’ll catch overgrown goldfish all day, but turn your nose up at a catfish?”
Let’s talk for a moment.* Catfish are great. They’re delicious. On bamboo pole (single cane not Tonkin) with a bobber and a tin of earthworms, they make for an enjoyable afternoon.**
On a fly rod, catfish are surprisingly disappointing. There’s a slew of factors to consider, but what makes them ultimately disappointing ties back to the fish’s attitude.
Catfish have zero fight in them.***
Once you both realize what’s going on (you’re aware it’s not a stump and it’s aware something’s yanking on it) there are about 5 minutes of the fish rolling around and that’s pretty much it.
All of a sudden you’ve got it pulled up next to the bank staring at you. At this point, you begin to realize you’re going to fight more with the fish to get him off of the hook to save your fly than when you were pulling it in.
It’s almost like every catfish ever has already been caught and they know the drill. You’ll pull them in and fight with taking the hook out of their mouth, which won’t be easy because they’re covered in skin, not scales, and you’ll let them go because you probably didn’t try to catch them anyway and even if you were and decided to keep them they’ve accepted their fate and probably had a good run anyway at least they ground down the threads on the fly you were fishing with and probably wrapped your leader around an underwater stump and scratched it all up yadda yadda yadda yadda…
I’m not saying catfish aren’t worth catching. Depending on how motivated and hungry I am I might say the exact opposite.
But on a fly rod? I’d rather have an 8″ bluegill or 1/2 lb bass.
* By “talk” I mean read this opinion
** No way I’m waking up early to go catfishing.
*** I’m talking about channel cats that are generally less than 5 lbs. I’ve never caught anything bigger on a fly rod. I’m sure the +20 lb flatheads and so on are a different story
I thought that leaving Nashville would be a good way for this blog to die. Not because I wanted it to, but because for some reason I thought it would be appropriate.
“Why?” you ask*. I have no freakin’ clue. I didn’t hate blogging. I also didn’t stop fishing. If you’ve followed any of my social media accounts you’d know better. In my mind, it just made sense to stop writing about what I was doing and just do more of it. That makes sense. Right?
I believe I achieved my goal. I also want to start back writing about it if only just to help me process the things I have and will continue to learn.
Life has changed in many ways since leaving Nashville. Between having our first child and spending more of my time on the Hooch I believe my perspective has shifted.
I can’t promise this will come often, but maybe more frequently than once every 5 years.
*No one is asking this question. I’d be surprised if anyone even reads this post.
The table is empty, with the exception of a few knick-knacks, but still the cleanest it has been since it became my designated fly tying desk.
Is this related to the big news I referenced in the previous post?
I’m cleaning up the fly tying bench because on Saturday morning we’ll be leaving middle Tennessee. I could bore you with the details of jobs, housing, etc., but I don’t really feel like it. Chances are if you’re reading this then you have my number so call me and I’ll explain further.
It’s a good thing.
I will miss the many waters of middle Tennessee (Harpeth, Percy Priest, Stones, Caney Fork). I’ve yet to really review my trip with Tommy, things have been so hectic over the last few weeks/months, but one thing we discussed at length was just how many unique fishing opportunities one has in/around Nashville. Warm water, cold water, tailwater, still water fishing is all within a 5-45 minute drive from where you are. I’m going to really miss the ability to pick from such a variety.
I’m going to really miss visiting the guys at Cumberland Transit on Saturday mornings. Those mornings really taught me so much about fly fishing, fly tying, and rod building that I’d never received from anyone from any other shop I’ve frequented before. They certainly seemed to have adopted me for the brief time I was here, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. Fortunately, I’ll have one more Saturday before I go.
Easily the most difficult thing about leaving will be leaving behind all the wonderful people we’ve met and become great friends with. That’ll be reason enough to come back often. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to fish a little too.
P.S. The table may be clean, but the drawers are still full of crap.
I’ve been everywhere, and in the most non-interesting ways pertaining to fishing. Still, a lot is happening, and I might have some big news not relating to fishing at the end of the week. Okay, no might. I’ll definitely have some big news not related to fishing at the end of the week. For now, I’ll share a few pictures from my one time out on the water in what seems like the last two weeks.
Yep, that’s about it. Enjoy the rest of your week.
Okay, the rod has really kinda been “done” for about two days now, but it technically takes a few days for the rod finish and wraps to cure before it’s fishable. As of about 6 hours ago, I can confirm that it is indeed ready to go.
I can see now why these things cost a lot of money to buy. Average price range for a rod from a reputable builder can go from $1,200-$5,000 and high-end customizable rods can even reach the $10,000 price point!
Don’t worry guys. I didn’t even get close to half of the lowest priced rod to finish this guy because I did as much of it as I could myself; however, I can see how some…SOME…of those high price points are justified. I researched the process, and consulted with a local bamboo rod builder, who does fantastic work, for several months before I even started gathering materials.
Once I gathered the blanks and build materials, I let my blank sit for about 3-4 months before I touched it. I mostly spent that time researching, but in the off chance the ‘boo was still holding moisture, and I had a few reasons to believe it was, I wanted to let it cure by sitting it in a flat dry area.
If you have noticed any reoccurring theme throughout the build process it is that this
certainly takes time. Any missteps and you’d have a very small amount of fire starter instead of a rod.
Once I decided the blanks were ready I proceeded with ferruling the blanks. I’ve already typed up a post on how fun that was. Check it out.
After the ferruling was finally over I began the finishing process. This process is the biggest difference in building bamboo rods from any other type of rod. It’s also difficult because there are a thousand different ways to do it, and just about nobody does it the same way. Varnish is a very generic woodworking term that you see repeated everywhere, but carries no real universal meaning. I constantly read and heard other’s stories about building, and at a certain point they all “varnished” their blanks. Varnished with what? There are a thousand ways to varnish.
The overall purpose of the varnish seemed to be to protect the wood from the elements, whether that be with shellac, polyurethane, etc. I settled on a process I liked better. I decided to finish my blank with Tung Oil Finish. Now keep in mind, this process was slightly similar to impregnating the blank with oils, but I didn’t have a dip, nor did I have several months to wait on the oils to fully set after soaking in the dip tank that I didn’t have. Instead I took a page out of my old wood working days at Gibson making Les Pauls. I decided to wipe down the blank once every 24 hours with Tung Oil Finish (NOT PURE TUNG OIL! Tung Oil Finish has polymers that layer-after-layer builds up on the blank once it’s saturated) until it had about 8 coats on it. This way I would get the moisture protection, and not have to worry about uneven runs of resin running down the blank.
Once the finish had set I was ready for the guides. I measured the guides several times, and attached them using painters tape. I would then run line through the guides and cast it around a bit before I finally settled on a different setup from what Jim Payne originally put on his #100 taper. I decided that taking the 6 guides and re-spacing them to add a 7th guide on the tip section was allowing me to get more out of the swelled butt above the cork grip. This isn’t an original idea. I’ve seen other builders do this with 7’6 5 wt rods, and after trying the spacing on the blank I immediately liked it.
I didn’t have the luxury of a rod bench or rod wrapper so I was fortunate enough to use my knees, vases, platters, whatever we had around the house to elevate and keep tension on the spools of silk so that I could go wrap-by-wrap around the rod. It took about 15 hours total to get the wraps on the guides. Fortunately, fly tying taught me a lot about how to get good secure wraps on a rod, and it also taught me a few useful trick too. Once the wraps were finally on, it took several coats of polyurethane (48 hours between each coat) to secure the wraps. I know that there are some epoxies that can be used on guide wraps, but I wanted to go the slower route so that I could more closely control the layering as it was being applied. Also, I didn’t have anyway to turn the rod to make sure that it dried evenly so I just used my left hand.
Once the wrapping was done I commissioned my wife, who’s hand writing is a thousand times better than mine, to scribe the specs onto the rod blank. She’s also the one who’s really awesome and remembers to take all of these pictures. After that it was time to just let the wraps cure before it was done.
These are just a few insights into how the building process went. I can’t even begin to describe to you how much I’m anticipating my next build. I’ve got thousands of notes stowed away on what I would like to try next, or how I can make the next rod better. So far, I can say the rod casts beautifully. One of the reasons I have fallen in love with bamboo rods is that my Payne 100 build and the Dickerson 7012 that I received are both 4 wt rods, but at the same time two completely different rods. And believe me when I say it’s not just the difference between slow, med, and fast. It’s a world of difference. It would take an entire post just to describe the differences, and even then you’d still just have to casts the rods for yourself. There’s no way you can compare bamboo to any other type of rod out there. It’s it’s own world within itself.