Another fresh, cool morning in Crooked Eddy, and good news from Dennis Menscer’s rod shop for my wounded Granger. Dennis is crafting two new tips for my favorite vintage eight foot four weight, and let me know this morning that the cane work was done. Soon the new rod tips will be wrapped and varnished and the 8040 and I will once again stalk the Delaware’s wild trout!
There is something just right about an eight foot rod. It seems to be the perfect foil for this game of trout hunting, regardless of season. When I wander the rivers during winter, there’s an eight footer sharing the walk with me, and come spring its tough to pry one from my hand. It was summer’s low water that caused me to string a four weight line on my Granger, and that great old rod will never see another five weight.
Whether high water or low, eight feet of finely tapered bamboo easily provides the reach we often require on the wide Catskill tailwaters. When the battle with a great fish is close at hand, an eight isn’t ungainly and in its own way like the nine foot rods the graphite crowd prefers; its just the right tool to bring that fish to net!
The aftermath of this weeks storms still finds our rivers running high, the normally gin clear water stained with sediment. The trout get a slight reprieve, though I know many of the guides will be eager to pound the banks with streamers better suited to saltwater gamefish. This tactic doesn’t thrill me in the least. I have landed too many large trout to find their mouths torn from big hooks and rough tactics with heavy rods since this big meat, articulated streamer craze caught hold. Let the high water give the fish a rest!
During my years in the Cumberland Valley I landed many oversize trout on streamers. The size 8 and 10 Shenk Sculpins and White Minnows the Master taught me to tie brought most of them to hand. These flies were fished on relatively light tippets, 4X most often, as the limestone trout were too wary and well fed to fall for heavy handed tactics. My rod of choice: a seven foot one ounce four weight Orvis graphite. All trout were released un-mangled and unharmed.
Seducing a trout is more about finesse than anything else, and there’s no need to bring a bigger hammer. I would hope those guides that encourage this fad fishing will at least appreciate the resource enough to talk their clients out of the heavy rods and heavy handed tactics.