Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Busted Crap

Grayling Slayer and Mouse Chucker
Fishing for a week gives you an opportunity to test your endurance and that of your equipment. By the end of the week in Alaska my casting shoulder was ready for a break and a tendon in my little finger wasn't happy at all. It's probably indicative of some casting flaw but if it only bothers me one week a year, I can live with it. Fortunately, after few days of rest and a few Advil and both the shoulder and finger were back to normal.

My equipment was largely intact upon my return. The rods (a Helios, a Hydros and a ZeroG) and reels (Mirages and a BBS) worked like champs. Yeah, I'm a walking commercial for Orvis but the top end gear lived up to its heritage. Could lesser gear have done the trick, probably. But at least I didn't overpay for crappy stuff.

My fly lines were a bit gummed up by the end of the week on account of  spending so much time on the deck of the boat so next time I'll bring some fly line cleaner. Which reminds me, I have to clean my fly lines.

Tony during happier times.
Note the Dirrrty Fly
So, what didn't work? Tony had two failures: a reel who's drag was toast after the first day and a fly line with a welded loop that split on what might have been "the fish of the trip".

Both failures were due to old equipment. The fly line should have been replaced; the loop busted from age. And a bit of lube would likely have saved the reel before it self destructed. So, lesson learned: Check gear before trip. Replace old stuff. Clean and Lube everything else.

I had two problems, both of which revolved around tin; specifically, tin shot. I could just have easily called this posting Tin Sux, but it doesn't, I just have to figure it out why this specific product is.... less than satisfactory.

On Friday, we spent the morning trekking out to the tundra in search of Pike. We struck out and had to call it a day early because the weather was closing in. I'll tell that tale next week. But the good news is we got out in the afternoon for some fishing on the river.

Jerry took the afternoon off so it was just Tony and I and we were chucking large, articulated flesh flies on long leaders with five or six BB (or larger) shot on them. Big rigs fished deep for big fish. I was fishing the same rig I had fished the day before and it was missing a few split shot. Rather than bug the man at the oars I dug out a package of split shot that I had and applied them to the leader.

I managed a few drifts with that rig, caught a few fish and as I was untangling the fly, which had hooked itself, I noticed that I was down to only three split shot again. I added two more and resumed fishing.

One of these things is crap. The
other broke because of the
thing that is crap.
Well, this replayed itself two or three more times. I was loosing shot or the shot would slip down the leader. And I got two massive tangles while I was goofing around with the weight. AAARRGH! On the last full day of fishing the last thing you want to be doing is messing with your equipment. Especially when your buddy is catching fish. AAARRGH!

So, this tin shot just wouldn't do the job for which it was expressly designed -- grip a leader and drag it to the bottom of the river. At one point I thought that maybe I wasn't squeezing hard enough and I squeezed so hard I broke my forceps. I then switched to a pair of pliers and either it wouldn't mash the shot enough or it would split the back of the shot. Useless.

Short story: Orvis Tin Split Shot will not stay on a sixteen pound leader. It's crap.

I'm all for getting the lead out so I've ordered a sample of pretty much every sort of tin shot on the market. They've started to arrive and I'm going to ferret out one of these buggers that actually works as advertised. Look for a review of Tin Shot in the coming weeks. Maybe there's hope for lead free weight.

Though I'm not optimistic.


  1. You have an Orvis tattoo.

    And I'm glad you went all the way to Alaska to test your gear before it's put to the ultimate test in November.


  2. Of course I wouldn't go to Pulaski without testing my equipment in conditions that are almost as challenging.