The trip offered a good chance to fish the rod FAOL selected as the 'Pick of the Show' in
Salt Lake City. I used the FIVE piece travel rod by Sage, the 9ft, 9wt RPLXI.
What more can I say, it's a cannon, a velvet cannon. If you're in the
market for a very packable fly rod, demand superior performance, beauty and quality,
look no further, this rod was designed, not 're-designed' especially for salt-water
fishing. It does what it is supposed to.
I had also made arrangements with Todd Vivian of Lamiglas to borrow a rod for the trip.
I had cast some of their rods at the Salt Lake show, but not any of the four-piece pack rods.
Todd said I should try the new G1000 series pack rod. It sells for just
under two hundred bucks at most dealers and I figured it may be a good time to try one
out. It arrived three days before I flew out and I did not have a chance to cast it before
I left. No big deal, I trust Lamiglas. Their rods are made for fishermen . . . by fishermen . . .
Opening the case at home let me take a real look at the rod. No hurry like when I am in
a fly shop or at a show. The tube was well made, the sock stays inside and is divided into
four sections. After putting some paraffin on the ends of the male sections and turning off
the ceiling fan, I carefully assembled the 9 foot 9 weight. It was straight, felt like a
medium-fast rod, which is what they mark it at, and flexed correctly. It was not as light
in hand as some of the real high priced rods of these days, but was not in any way
objectionable. Everything looked fine, into my airline tube it went. When it next saw
the light of day it was in British Columbia and about to do battle with some silver salmon.
The salmon up there are big and mean. I called Fin-Nor and got a 'Fin-ite II' to
use. I chose the 8/9 made to hold a nine weight line and enough 30 pound backing to tie
The drag on the reel was, 'Buttery-smooth.' It was not the first time I had
picked up the reel, I had looked it over well at the Salt Lake City show. My investigation then
was more that of a machinist than fly-fisher. It looked good, felt good, had all the features and
I liked it. But now I was while sitting in my easy-chair at home with no distractions.
I dug into the box and plucked out the little booklet. Yes, I am one of those, the guys who
really do read them. After reading the whole thing, I unscrewed the reel's drag knob, took
off the spool and there it was. The big ring of cork, plenty heavy enough to
brake down anything I would ever go after and due to it's size, made the reels drag as
gentle as a kittens breath.
The book told me how to reverse it so I could reel with my left hand; yes, I am one
of those too, even though I cast right handed. I actually enjoy having to change them
over, makes me feel I have somehow personalized the things. I petted it a few more
times, looked it over some more tucked it into it's neoprene pouch and handed it to
my wife for her inspection. As you know, she fishes.
"Wow, this baby is great. It's the big cork drag that does that, right?"
"It is and now you know why I have wanted a 'Fin-nor' reel for so many years," I replied.
The next test would be fishing it. I was booked to fly to Tofino, B.C. Canada on Friday
the thirteenth of October from Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington.
My wife dropped me off at the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle Friday morning, a
cab to Boeing field, and onto a Piper Navaho to Vancouver, B.C. A larger
plane finished the trip and by three I was at the rather rustic airstrip for the venture.
Shawn Bennet was on hand with my ride to Weigh-West lodge, a change of clothes and I
was fishing by four p.m. My guide was 'Karma,' he is the 'fish-master'
there and is kind of like a head-guide. My high hopes were only exceeded by the velocity
of the wind. As the area is shot with islands and channels we were soon in the lee of one
and casting for salmon. Five hours since I left Seattle, not bad.
The wind switched and evening challenged us and after pestering a few
small coho we opted for some dinner and a steady place to stand.
My accommodations at Weigh West were more than adequate
with a living room, fireplace and a big balcony overlooking the charter office,
dockage, restaurant and bar.
After chow I relaxed with some cable T.V. and dreams of big fish. Morning
found me staring into fog. Thick, gray, solid, pea-soup fog. Not to worry,
G.P.S. to the rescue, after a seven a.m. breakfast Shawn and I were on the
water following the directions of the way-points programed into the navigation unit.
By ten or so the weather changed, the sun bore thru and the world opened up to reveal some
of the famous scenery which the area is so noted.
The town of Tofino, population of 1200, receives about a million and a half visitors a year.
I now can see why. It's like living in your own post-card. Fabulous country. He asked me
how I liked it, "Reminds me a lot of Canada," I replied. Shawn and I got along well. He runs
the charter office, is a well noted fly tier, a darn good guide as the day would show and can
cast. He suggested a pet fly of the area and I knotted one on with a free-swinging loop. He
did the same. Only a few stabs with the 375 wet-tip and I was firmly attached to a blue
and silver thrashing, spinning, mad-as-heck silver salmon.
The moment devolved into a scene of panic. Cameras were grabbed, lense caps removed,
suggestions offered and tension peaked. "Hang on a sec," I said. "He had two with him,
I'll just keep him out there, you make a few casts, ya should be able to hang one too."
Shawn made the suggested few with no results and landing my fish became important.
Not wanting to injure the fish he reaches over the side and tails them.
The tail of a coho is not as hard as some salmon, but it can be done. We did.
A couple of quick pictures and back it went. I held it for a bit as it got it's
bearings, then with a grateful wag of it's tail, off he went.
With the 'skunk' off of the boat for the day, I switched flies, turning to my personal
favorite, Castwell's Marblehead.
I figured if the fly worked off the coast of Washington, it should work up
here. It did. In fact, it seemed to be the hot fly for the day; kind'a made mine.
The day brought a repeat of the scene several times over, splattered with fantastic
scenery, various sea-birds and great comradery.
My trip was a complete success. The rods worked, the fly-line worked. The reel was
the sweetest I have ever used. Dinner that night with new found companions, a solid
nights sleep and rain in the morning. It really rained . . . and blew too.
Karma and I left the dock at about eight a.m. and plowed our way
into the approaching storm. I had until noon to fish and by gosh I was going to fish.
We got one fish. Karma got it. On a purple woolly bugger. I don't
do 'buggers.' At the dock by noon, changed, had some lunch, packed up and was
in the air by three p.m., in Seattle by five and home by seven.
Did I have a good time? Will I go up again? You know that answer to that, of course!
Probably in August of 2001 the wife and I will drive it. Should take about eight hours from
here, supposed to be wonderful scenery on the trip. We both will enjoy that. And she
needs to pester some salmon too. ~ JC