Friday, September 16, 2011

DIY Fly Turner

Many popular flies call for use of epoxy. This can be messy and time consuming as most epoxy flies need to be constantly rotated to assure an even finish while drying. The obvious solution is a to use a fly turner, but they can retail for anywhere from 75-100 dollars. The DIY addict in me decided I could make something just as functional for a fraction of the cost, and thats just what I did.

The first and most important part I had to take care of was a motor. I needed something with a very slow spinning rate. Most commercial fly turners spin between 3-7 RPM, so I wanted something that fit in to that range. I found a few inexpensive motors that I would have had to wire myself, but I chose the easy route by purchasing a disco ball motor that was already wired with an AC plug. Not only was it already wired, but it came in a housing that had holes for mounting. I was able to get the motor for $15.99 shipped.

To mount the motor, I found a scrap peice of 1x4 about 10 inches long in the garage. I used a metal shelf mounting angle ($1.79) as a vertical support from the base to the motor. This allowed me to mount the motor with the spinning shaft aligned horizontally.

The last step was making a wheel to connect the flies to while they spun. I purchased a wooden circle from a craft store for fifty cents. However, I had to find a way to make the spinning shaft more apt to connect to the wheel. To do this I used a brad hole T-nut. First, I marked the alignment of the holes on the center of my wooden wheel. I then coated the spinning shaft in epoxy and slid the T-nut over it and let it set. I drilled out holes where I marked the wooden wheel. Instead of searching for micro sized bolts that would fit through the brad holes on the T-nut I came up with the idea to feed nails into the holes and cap them on the other side of the wheel with a foam block. This makes it very easy to remove the wheel when necessary, but is still sturdy enough to keep the wheel in place while the flies are turning. To complete the wooden wheel and make it seat flies, I used a strip of mounting tape around the edge to connect a strip of 1/4 inch thick foam ($1.19/sheet).

Overall I spent under $20 to build a very functional tool, saving me at least $50. Here is a short video clip of the turner:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Plum Crazy on the CocoPlum Canal

Made it out to one of our area's lesser known freshwater paddle fishing destinations, the CocoPlum waterway in North Port. Some may also know it as the 9 Mile Canal. This is an easy spot to get to just off of US41 via North Port Boulevard. There is a very seldom used boat ramp located on the site of the North Port YMCA that I used as my launch. I had yet to fish this canal until this morning, but after today I will definitely be back.

Here is a map:

As you can see, close proximity to US41. There was ample parking when I got there at 7:30, but the parking is shared with the YMCA which had become fairly busy by the time I arrived back at the launch. I backed the truck down the ramp and slid the kayak out before I parked, no need to haul your kayak over any distance. 

I used fly tackle exclusively today, throwing a #8 popper on a 5 Weight setup. I was targeting bream with the hopes of a possible bass mixed in. Not 5 casts in I had a mini explosion on my popper and played tug of war with this guy:

That was the average size of the bream I caught today. Most were a healthy 6-8 inches, but I did have a GillZilla just over 10 inches that managed to hit me with a spine and flop out of my hand while I had him posing for a picture. I used the old adage of following the birds to locate most of the fish today:

Using the #8 popper weeded out a lot of the smaller gills. I don't doubt that I could have had a 50 fish day had I downsized. I had more missed connections than craigslist via small bream mouthing the rubber legs on the popper. One of those little guys realized his eyes were bigger than his stomach though:

The canal itself flows into a finger of the Myakka river. There was a slow current today due to the fact that it has rained recently, and the water drains via a spillway. That spillway could be a destination in and of itself, a popular but hard to access spot for snook and tarpon certain times of the year. In the canal though there are a number of drainage pipes from retention ponds along US41. I found one with a slow trickle of water coming out of it and got excited that I might find a lazy bass slurping up minnows out of the runnoff:

I dropped anchor to combat the slow current, it was a couple of feet too deep to stakeout. I impressed myself with my casting skill (I picked up a flyrod for the first time two weeks ago) by planting my popper in the culvert and letting it fall out with the flow. After no more than 5 casts towards this culvert I picked up a nice two pound bass:

After that the bite subsided. I got a few more missed connections from smaller bream as I drifted back towards the ramp, but none stuck. If I was a wise man I would have switched to a wet fly, but like many I have a sort of addiction to topwater action. Overall I caught no less than 15 bluegill to 10 inches and a single two pound largemouth in about an hour and 20 minutes of fishing. 

Pond Hopping

I have been keeping the fly rod in the truck lately to make a few casts every time I stumble upon a new pond while running errands. It has helped me practice my casting more than anything, but has also lead to a couple of nice fish.