27 September 2012

Things of Three III

The third edition of three items/subjects/places/people worth checking out to make life as an angler and global citizen far more enjoyable.

1. Howler Bros apparel
If shallow people were to align a product line with their 'personal image' (*cough*), I wouldn't blame them if they chose Howler Bros of Austin, TX. From their About page:
We are Howler Brothers. We are not really related by blood. But we are bonded by many shared callings: surfing, fishing, paddling and the good things that come with these pursuits. Things like fire pits, really good tequila, limes, and pre-dawn coffee.
My surfing career was cut short by lack of waves, a fear of sharks and limited motivation to learn how to surf. But I do like fishing, paddling (for fishing), fire pits (we call 'em bonfires), tequila, limes, limes/lime juice in tequila, and coffee (pre- or post-dawn makes no difference to me).

But that's neither here nor there.

Howler makes clothing that is durable, comfortable and practical. Some would say stylish, but I use practical in place of stylish; as in, "Can I where this in public without my lovely girlfriend being embarrassed?" For Howler's apparel lineup, the answer to that is a heck yeah.

I just received my (third) order from Howler this AM and I'm impressed as always. Their t-shirts are the most comfortable (and softest things) I own. And that hat is just damn cool.

Know who else digs Howler swag? This guy. Oh yeah, it's true.

Website: howlerbros.com

Social: @HowlerBrosfacebook.com/howlerbros

Note: Cameron over at The Fiberglass Manifesto has a TFM promo code for $10 off your order, check out the details here.

2. My (new) old-timey shaving kit
This started as a multi-paragraph rant about much of a money-grab cartridge razors have become, but instead I'm just posting this pic:
A better shave, a more enjoyable shave, and a far less expensive shave. Less plastic waste, too. Bam.
After using the double-edge razor for the first time, I was already looking forward to my next opportunity to shave.

That's telling in itself: I normally hate shaving.

Website: classicedge.ca
Resources: sharpologist.com

3. Wolves
Last week it was Coyote. This week it's Wolves, from Big Wreck's Albatross album. Enjoy.

25 September 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays: Seven Sins of Air Travel

A more civilized form of air travel.
In the spirit of 'do onto others' and knowledge-sharing, I give you seven sins of air travel that drive me absolutely bonkers while I'm traveling in tightly-packed tin pigeons.

I don't do these things. Neither should you.

1. Not waiting for row number or section to board.
The mad rush occurring at the gate when the gate agent calls for general boarding is an affront to civilized society.

There is a method to the airline's madness when they ask for rows 21-27 to board. When people in row 17 try to board during this time, it messes up the method.

Wait your turn. The plane will not leave without you.

2. Not waiting your turn to exit.
This comic from The Oatmeal sums it up perfectly.

Click the image or here to view The Oatmeal's original post.
Note: I'm not intending to steal this content from The OatmealThe Oatmeal is funny as shit & should be read regularly. I'm hoping my numerous links back to The Oatmeal will absolve any ill-feelings someone might have for my borrowing this. I am but a moronic hack in comparison to the comic genius of The Oatmeal. Read The Oatmeal. All the time. Pre-order the book or buy some artwork or a shirt from The Oatmeal while you're at it. For more awesomeness from The Oatmeal on air travel, click here.

3. It's a touch screen, damn it!
That little entertainment system on the back of the seat in front of you? It's a touch screen.

It's not a "poke screen" or a "push with all your might screen" or a "two finger death jab screen."

Touch screen. As in, lightly place your finger on the selection you wish to make. Leave it there for a second, then remove your finger. That's it.

People are less likely to be beaten with a rolled-up issue of the complimentary in-flight magazine (or Financial Post) if they would adhere to this PSA.

4. Body odour or excessive perfume/cologne.
It should go without saying: people need to have some consideration for the other dozens of people cramped into an aluminum tube.

Don't be smelly.

5. Obnoxious overconsumption of alcohol.
I frequently travel to depressing and isolated places for work, leaving my lovely girlfriend and adorable dog behind for weeks at a time. Or I travel to fun places to fish or for vacation.

If anyone had an excuse to either drown their sorrows or celebrate with alcohol during air travel, it'd be me. But I don't. I drink ginger ale. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

If you need multiple drinks to deal with air travel, you probably feel you need multiple drinks to deal with other things in life. That means you are an alcoholic and require assistance. Visit AA.

Note: to my fellow Atlantic Canadians: YOU are the most frequent people I see being obnoxiously drunk in airports or on planes in my travels. Is Fort Mac not all it's cracked up to be? Straighten your shit out. It's embarrassing.

6. Carrying on way too much shit.
This is extremely inconsiderate to other passengers, and sadly airlines do little to enforce their rules on this.

People need to either pack less or get off their wallets and spend the extra $25 to check a bag.

Stop the madness.

7. Using other seats as pull-up bars or handrails.
This, too, should be fairly self-evident, but it's really not.

People are inconsiderate tools sometimes.

I'll share a story.

Note: Feel free to skip this story if you like. Especially if you don't wish to have your opinion of me changed.

Once upon a time, in a time long ago, I was flying from Montreal to Vancouver.

This flight is pretty much the longest non-stop flight we have in Canada, at about five hours or more.

Picture me sitting in a window seat in economy class, beside two middle-aged ladies from Quebec. Leopard-pattern pants, a zebra-print dress & leather jackets betrayed their cougarness. They scared me a little.

Shortly after the plane took off I put on my noise-cancelling headphones, lowered my hat, and dozed off.

Moments later, I awoke feeling as though a was in a deathly free-fall.

No, the plane wasn't crashing. It was a morbidly-obese man seated behind me, pulling himself up with my seat. Have you ever had a feeling of falling to your death while on the cusp of sleep? It sucks.

As Fatty moved toward the aisle, he grabbed Cougar #1's seat, and a handful of her hair, too. Same for Cougar #2's seat, but she did a preemptive duck to avoid having her hair pulled.

Note: insert your own 'cougars having their hair pulled' joke here, if you like.

The sad thing is, I allowed it to happen again more than once. Fatty was in violation of Pet Peeve #5: he was drinking a few beer but had the bladder of a small girl. Every time he stood up, he grabbed my seat to pull himself up.

Knowing sleep would be unattainable until this situation became remedied, I prepared myself for Fatty's return from his third trip to the lavatory. I requested a Globe and Mail from the flight attendant but received a National Post. I removed the Financial Post section and rolled it up tightly. I folded the tightly-rolled Financial Post in half. I waited.

I had an assumption and a quick glance over my shoulder proved that assumption correct: Fatty was grabbing everyone's seats along the aisle to steady himself as he waddled along. A flight attendant was several rows behind him, collecting empty cups. My timing would have to be perfect.

Clutching the rolled-up Financial Post, I faced forward in my seat but kept Fatty in my peripheral vision. The other passengers in the row behind us got up so he could enter. Fatty grabbed Cougar #2's seat and slid into the row. He pulled himself along the row using Cougar #1's seat. The cougars exchanged a look of displeasure.

Fatty was reaching for my seat when I turned. The flight attendant was four rows back and distracted with a passenger. Perfect.

The split-second Fatty's hand touched my seat to lower himself, I half-spun and rapped his knuckles with the rolled-up Financial Post. Fatty let go and fell backward into his seat with a look of surprise. The flight attendant was three rows back and approaching. She didn't see my clout in the name of justice and humanity.

I dropped the Financial Post in front of my seat to hide it and said firmly, "You have to stop grabbing my fucking seat."

Before he could respond, the flight attended was on the scene. "Is everything ok here?"

"It would be if this gentleman would stop grabbing my seat to pull himself up when he goes to the bathroom every twenty minutes," I calmly replied.

Poor Fatty looked confused as the flight attendant addressed him. "Sir," she said, "please refrain from grabbing the seats of other passengers."

He mumbled an acknowledgement, staring daggers at me. I smirked at him and turned back around. I replaced my noise-cancelling headphones and lowered my hat. The cougars giggled at what just transpired. I dozed until the plane landed in Vancouver.

As I stood to exit the plane, I glanced at Fatty. He had the look of death warmed over; he spent the remainder of the flight coming off of his beer buzz. Perfect.

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Did I miss anything? What annoys the shit out of you during air travel? Was I too mean to Fatty?

Hit it up in the comments section.

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Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

20 September 2012

5 Things I Learned in Belize

Here are five things I learned on my trip to Belize last week:

1. Line speed is extremely important.
I knew line speed was important in the salt before leaving, but rarely gave it a second thought...until I was on a pancake flat with a super-spooky school of cruising bones in a very stiff breeze.

We didn't have very many shots in the first two-thirds of the week, and the few shots I did have were exactly as described: cruising fish, long-ish shots, stiff breeze.

Mark my words, bonefish: it'll be a different game the next time I'm around.

Louis and Kent over at Gink & Gasoline frequently post good stuff on this, e.g.:

2. I like eating seafood far more than I ever imagined.
I caught some snapper on a handline off the back of the boat one night with one of the guides. The kitchen staff cleaned them & dressed them up in beer-batter. I topped them with Marie Sharp's and it was heavenly.

And don't even get me started on snook. We had it one night & it was amazing, but they're just too fun to catch to make a habit of eating them. But man, they are delicious. Commence moral dilemma.

Related note: we had caught a couple snook and the guides wanted to keep them. Our boat kept one, and the other boat kept two. I was sort of ok with this. Then I caught a big snook, which they also wanted to keep. I wasn't ok with this. Dylan suggested a picture of it in the water, as I leaned over the gunnel. This photo op was convenient; I 'dropped' the snook, giving it a little shove into the current to help it along. 

3. There's a place for glass & slower action rods in the salt...
...and that place is short-shots, mangroves and docks. 

I brought my CGR 7/8wt with me to Belize, and it really shined for making short shots under branches & in between roots and dock pilings. 

Whether or not the CGR would have the backbone required to yank a decent-sized snook or baby tarpon out of structure remains to be seen: I didn't hook anything on it. But it reinforces my belief that super-fast action rods are not the cat's ass at all times, as I discovered this summer in Charleston.

Note: I would have gladly blown that rod up on a 20lb baby tarpon & replaced it with another. I consider that the price of admission, and better to blow up a $99 rod than a $450 custom-built glass rod, huh?

For more reinforcement on glass in the salt, check out the backcountry fun Dr. Aaron Adams had with glass here on The Fiberglass Manifesto.

Side note: Some day, possibly soon, or maybe next year, I will be actively searching for an 8'-8'6", 4pc 7/8wt glass rod for light salt duty. I believe it would be epic for reds, specs & bones in certain situations. And I want the reel seat to match my Tibor Backcountry, fyi...

4. I am very emotionally-invested in catching fish.
By day four I was getting bummed out.

The trip was awesome, food was delicious, bunks were comfortable, but I wasn't seeing many fish, and the shots I did have weren't easy by any stretch of the imagination. Frustrated would be an understatement.

Side note: I'll mention Dylan, aka the guy who does this for a living, hadn't hooked anything at this point either, so it wasn't totally my incompetent angling skills at play here. Things were friggin' tough.

Fortunately day five turned things around. If it didn't, Dylan would have woken up to the following on day six:

5. i) Loop knots are my favourite knots.
Simple. Elegant. Effective.

5. ii) My Tibor Backcountry is my favourite reel.
Simple. Elegant. Effective.

19 September 2012

Things of Three II

The second edition of three items/subjects/places/people worth checking out to make life as an angler and global citizen far more enjoyable.

1. Marie Sharp's Habanero Sauce
I can barely put into words how awesome this hot sauce is.

Marie Sharp's is the hot sauce of angels.

There's heat, but the heat compliments the flavour of the sauce's carrot base without overpowering it. The Belizean Heat (smaller bottle) is considerably hotter, but still extremely flavourful; moreso than most hot sauces that I've tried previously.

About seventeen minutes after coming ashore, still wobbly with sea-legs, I sauntered into a Belizean grocer to buy some to bring back to Canada (the $1.04CDN = $1US = $2BZ exchange rate is highly favourable if anyone is interested in becoming a habanero sauce smuggler with me).

It's completely possible I've discussed Marie Sharp's more than I have the fishing since I returned. And it even makes turkey bacon tolerable.

Related note #1: Once we arrived at the airport, I accessed email for the first time in 8 days, where I saw the following passage in an email from my buddy Will: "Marie Sharp's habanero pepper sauce. Just sayin. Fill your boots and then cover your eggs." Done and done, William. Done. And. Done.

Web: www.mariesharps-bz.com

2. Columbia Airgill Chill shirt
I was looking to buy this shirt when I sent the following tweet:
I never expected Columbia to tell me to DM my address and size to get one to demo for free. That was pretty damn cool, although never the original intention. So thanks, Columbia!

Related note #2: Ironically, I've been telling people for the past month or so how I'm limiting the number of gear reviews I do on this site. I'd rather mention gear I've used & abused after purchasing it on my own dime. You might not have noticed, but I've been using this forum to (attempt to) expand my writing abilities, albeit slowly and one syllable at a time, as well as focusing on travel tips to help my fellow anglers (anyone? Bueller? Bueller?). Oh well. Who am I to turn down free swag?

In four words: I love this shirt.

In more than four words: I wore & abused the hell out of this shirt. Five of seven fishing days I wore it, with no washes in between. It was soaked in saltwater and sweat, smeared with fish slime, and drizzled with coffee, Marie Sharp's, Coca Cola, Belikan and very nearly tears. The Airgill Chill held up to all of it.

It's sturdily built but lightweight and quick-drying, with the right number, size and location of pockets to hold your camera and a small fly box. Size large was slightly baggy on me, but I didn't mind the loose fit in the billion and eight degree heat.

Two additional considerations: 1) it was surface-of-the-sun hot a few days there; and 2) I'm a Canadian who spent the majority of summer in far Northern latitudes. I was a pasty-white cracker in Belize, and the shirt's Omni-Shade® UPF 30 sun protection kept my upper body pasty-white throughout the week.

This is a premium fishing shirt. It will travel with me to any hot climate from here on in.

And yes, I would have gladly dropped my own coin on it with zero regrets. But I didn't have to, so big win for me.

Web: Columbia Performance Fishing Gear front page here; www.columbia.com

3. Coyote
No, not the cuddly animal. Coyote is the new album from Matt Mays. It's good. Like, really, really good. This may be blasphemous, but I like it better than Jack White's album Blunderbuss, and I thought that was the primo album of 2012...until I heard Coyote.

Check it out on the iTunes store here.

Here's the first track on the album; it's definitely one of my early favourites.

17 September 2012

The Clear Cure Charlie

Disclaimer #1: I am not a professional fly tyer.
Disclaimer #2: I am not a professional bonefisherman.

Both of the bonefish eats I had on Friday were on this fly pattern I tied up before the trip.

During marathon tying sessions prior to departure, I quickly tired of wrapping both flashabou and v-rib on the hook shank. Enter the Clear Cure Goo (laziness breeds ingenuity, folks).

Using the Clear Cure Goo instead of v-rib probably saved three-quarters of a minute for each tie, and it was fun pretending it was becoming irradiated to give it superhero powers when I blasted it with the ultraviolet light (e.g., the Hulk, Spiderman, Radioactive Man, etc).

An additional bonus to using the CCG is it makes the fly nearly indestructible. Like it had...superhero powers!

Disclaimer #3: Yes, there's a zillion patterns and recipes that are derived from Crazy Charlies (no tail) and Gotchas (with tail). This could be called a Gotcha, because it has a tail. I don't really care what it's called, it seemed to work, so I'm sharing it.
  • Hook: Tiemco 811S, size 8
  • Thread: Fire Orange, size 6/0
  • Eyes: small bead chain
  • Tail: 8-12 strands of pearl Crystal Flash, ~1.5x length of hook shank
  • Body: 4-5 strands of pearl Flashabou wrapped flat on shank, coated with a fine smear of Clear Cure Goo Brushable & irradiated with UV light
  • Wing: clump of white calf tail
  • Head: Fire Orange thread

07 September 2012

Gone Fishin'

The last fly of many tied in the past 36 hours to get ready for this adventure.
If taxis, airports & airplanes goes as planned, I'll be on a muthaf**kin' boat in Belize tomorrow afternoon.

Barring any high seas acts of piracy (most likely committed by me), I'll be back in nine or ten days.

It's Friday. Crank this tune up & have a great weekend.

06 September 2012

Things of Three

Three items/subjects/places/people worth checking out to make life as an angler and global citizen far more enjoyable:

1. Fish Tales Fly Shop, Calgary, AB
The positive side of getting weathered in at the project site in Nunavut last week is getting to meet Matlock (aka @findeep) for a quick fish on Alberta's Bow River and going for sushi with him & Cod (@chroniclesofcod) during a seven-hour layover. Best layover ever. Wet socks & all.

Matlock picked me up at the airport and we headed to his local fly shop so I could grab a license. The fact they had been closed for about an hour didn't really slow things down much; they unlocked the door and got me set up with both a license and the new issue of The Drake for my flight home.

Fish Tales is a great shop, loads of inventory and run by a seriously kick-ass nice dude. If you're in Calgary, it's worth a stop. And Cod guides outta there, too.

Check 'em out on the web here. For a Google Map, click here.

Supporting your local fly shop isn't a cliché. Try rolling into a BassPro or Canadian Tire to buy a license an hour after they're closed. Yeah, thought so...

2. The Shack Up Sessions
This is Ross Neilsen's new solo album, recorded inside the Robert Clay shack at The Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale Mississippi, just down the road from the famous crossroads of highway 49 and 61.

It's good. Really good.

Ross has been mentioned a few times here, and his music is on my regular rotation of playlists & albums. And for good reason: his songs are at times rocking and whisky-chugging, and always soulful and honest-to-goodness blues.

This album is a little less loud but still everything one could ask for in a blues album.

Ross also had a special message for the fly fishing crowd that reads this: "Keep yer poles bent."

You can preview and download the album here & on iTunes; for a physical copy shipped, click here.

Ross can be reached via his website, rossneilsen.com, and through Twitter, @rossneilsen.

And if this picture doesn't brighten your day, check your pulse.
Ross (right) & Karl's search for a bass player brought interesting characters.
3. William Joseph HemoCuts
One of my favourite fly fishing accessories. Probably one of the best sub-$20 items in the fly fishing industry, in my mind.

Pros: easy to grip, easy to open, pinch barbs up to 1/0 saltwater hooks, cutting blades are sharp, and they lock down tight when shut.

Cons: they don't make a big, eff-off size for toothy/salty critters.

Check 'em out here.

04 September 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays: Bring these too

If you're heading to warm climates to chase fish, here are ten items from your local pharmacy and fly shop you should consider packing:
  1. Sunscreen. As in the waterproof/sweat-proof, aerosol type, so it doesn't get all over your hands and subsequently your fly line, flies, etc.
  2. Sun mask & sun gloves. Overkill? Perhaps. Silly looking? Yup. Cheaper & easier than skin  graphs and chemotherapy? Definitely.
  3. Gold Bond powder. Go read LoFi's explanation why Gold Bond is must-have here.
  4. Bug repellant. I smuggled that 98.11% DEET in the pic above back from Alaska. No sense in half-assing keeping bugs off, is there?
  5. New-Skin liquid bandage. It may have been the guys at Gink & Gasoline that mentioned this before. Whoever it was: thank you. Great for line burns and protecting those nice little slices one receives from leaders when your hands are soggy.
  6. Lens cloths. The cloths pictured above are from the local Sprawl-Mart's Vision Centre. A box of 40 costs roughly $4.00. Think salt spray on polarized glasses, sweaty fingerprints on camera lenses, so on & so forth: easy cleanin' for ten cents a shot.
  7. Pocket tool. It goes without saying, but I will anyway: bottle opener, pliers, knife, screwdriver, file...consider it a backup for all of those things that are in your kit already.
  8. Headlamp. For countless reasons, including being able to read without disturbing any sleeping roommates.
  9. Anti-Diarrhoea meds. This should not require further explanation.
  10. The Economist magazine. The best cure for insomnia. Ever.
If you want to really go above & beyond, here's seven bonus items:
  1. After-Sun (just in case)
  2. After-Bite (ditto)
  3. Spare nippers
  4. Duct tape ('cuz if you can't duct it...)
  5. Electrical tape 
  6. Paracord
  7. Hook file

All of the above items will got a long way in keeping a trip to tropical locales fun, instead of turning the trip into an uncomfortable test of faith. Just ask LoFi about his, ummm, 'gooch rash.' Or not...

Most of the items listed are available in small or travel-sizes, so they won't take much room in your luggage (for duct tape, wrap 6-8 feet around a pen instead of taking an entire roll).

Don't forget to pack your pocket tool, nippers & hook file, and any liquids larger than 100mL into your checked luggage.

Happy trails.


PS - I'm packing for my trip to Belize. There may or may not be additional posts before departure, and definitely won't be any posts while I'm there, so...this might be a goodbye for the next couple of weeks. Y'all come back now, ya hear? I'll miss you all.

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Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

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The products mentioned in this article were bought and paid for by the author, Mat Trevors.

Especially the Gold Bond medicated powder.

I, Mat Trevors, am not sponsored by or associated with any of the companies listed above and am accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for these endorsements.

My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship has been pursued or established.

Companies wishing to hire a Writer-Not-In-Residence-But-On-Water can definitely buy my allegiance; however, those companies must be upstanding members of the global community and produce gear of high quality. I can be reached through the Contact Page.

And yes, if Gold Bond wanted to pay me to fish and write, I would be Gold Bond-logo'd and powdered up like no tomorrow.