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Product Reviews
May 02, 2006
by Bob Banfelder

Teeny and other saltwater fly lines.
I'll begin by saying that the products presented below have been tried, tested, and proven true. They are quality items that offer the consumer a high level of performance at a price that won't send the purchaser to the poorhouse. They have been put through the rigors of a marine environment, subjected to many a sea trial on numerous fishing trips by experts in the field as well as yours truly. They have been placed into the hands of veterans and novices alike. In some cases, at day's end, the products had to be pried from the grips of my significant other, students, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. No, this account is not akin to Consumer Reports. It is, however, a reliable wellspring of information based on hands-on operations, sound observations and common sense. Additionally, the advice and suggestions set forth are based on a single principle. KISS: Keep It Simple System. Once we start making things too complicated, we wind up omitting an important ingredient from the recipe of success, if not life in general. So let's not forget to factor in what recreational fishing is really all about. Fun. If we have to be convinced and told this twice, thrice or more times, then we must reinforce that solid principle by reminding ourselves and adhering to equation number two. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. I think you get the drift. So, let's begin this product report with a few saltwater fly rods that make the grade.





TEMPLE FORK OUTFITTERS

FLY RODS:



LEFTY KREH'S SERIES ONE MODEL 1090 10-Weight. Clearly a Quality-Value Winner.



TFO MODELS TiCr X 1290 12-Weight & BW LD DOUBLE-HANDED BLUEWATER Light Duty 10 to 13-Weight. Two Serious Saltwater Wands to Wave Above the Waters for Sizable Bruisers.



In the January 1, 2005 issue of Nor'east Saltwater, I wrote about having upgraded to a quality TFO 10-weight fly rod purchased (for under $100) from Joe Cravotta, owner and operator of Parkwood Outfitters in Bohemia. No, this is not a typographical error. Specifically, this value winner is a nine-foot, two-piece, IM6 graphite, Lefty Kreh Signature Series One rod, manufactured by Temple Fork Outfitters, with full wells grip and fighting butt. Its progressive taper loads fast and has the power and punch to deliver fantastic line speed and distance. To quote Joe, "The days of the multi-hundred dollar fly rods are over," unless, of course, you insist on spending big bucks. Is it necessary to do so in order to receive caliber-class craftsmanship and performance? Absolutely not. At a price that can't be beat, this rod is a midrange workhorse for fishing the brine.

As a basis of comparison, I have well over a dozen fly rods, some of which are outrageously priced. I don't have to tell you what you can expect to pay for names like Winston, Sage, G. Loomis, Scott, and Orvis, to name but a few. Some of these long rods should be mortgaged in lieu of sold outright. Hyperbole aside, those fine rod makers have their work cut out for them in terms of justifying their high prices against the high quality and affordable cost of Temple Fork's spectacular selection of Lefty Kreh Series fly rods; from a 2-weight on up to a 14 through 17-weight. TFO's gamut runs from light fresh water to heavy duty sea sticks and is presented here merely as an informative guide, illustrating that there is certainly a Temple Fork rod to meet your specific needs. In keeping with the KISS principle, we'll narrow down this otherwise exhaustive list, covering a series of seventy-five rods into something more finite and therefore, comprehensible. So let's take a quick look at what's available from Temple Fork Outfitters, keeping in mind that the series below was designed and/or endorsed, after first being tweaked and finally declared "perfect," by the master himself, Lefty Kreh.

Finesse Series 2-weight to 5-weight in four piece; Series One 2-weight to 10-weight in two piece; Professional Series 2-weight to 12-weight (in selected three, four and six piece sections; grips and butts differ accordingly); TiCr Series 4-weight to 12-weight in four piece; 14-weight. in three piece (consult TFO's website, www.templeforkflyrods.com, for specific grip and butt distinctions); TiCr-X Series 5-weight to 12-weight in four piece; Bluewater Series 10 to 13-weight in four piece, 14 to 17-weight in three piece; as well as their Jim Teeny Series 4-weight to 12-weight.

Recently, I added a TiCr-X model 1290, nine foot, four piece, 12-weight to my arsenal. This is unquestionably a beefier fast-action brute that throws a flat line with a tight loop. Three super-hard, oversized titanium oxide stripping guides, snake guides, aluminum channel lock sliding rear hood with double locking rings featuring full wells grip, fighting butt, flor grade cork handle, and the proprietary use of titanium and chromium to cushion impact completes this prize package. The rod casts smooth, fast and has real lifting power. Launching larger flies is no longer laborious. It retails for $249.95.

Next, to round off my armory with big tuna and billfish in mind, I went ballistic with a Bluewater TiCr2 nine-foot Lefty Kreh Signature Series Light Duty 10 to 13-weight, four piece, deep sea, double-handed hybrid, composed of IM6 graphite and S-Glass. The blank goes through the TiCr coating process twice for power and durability. Additionally, it has a premium grade cork fore grip. Wow! This is a serious fly rod for some serious size fish. It is a cannon for the canyons, yet loads and casts remarkably smooth for distance and line speed as the 12-weight mentioned above. I easily threw out an entire one hundred foot shooting taper along with some backing. Price tag, $249.95, too. The quality hardware is as described above.

In all candor, I initially ordered the heavier duty Bluewater Series HD 14 to 17-weight, eight-and-a-half foot, three piece rod. This was a broomstick by comparison, good for lifting a wreck itself from the floor of the sea. A call to customer service put things straight. No hassle. No problem. Within days I had the LD, Light Duty rod in my hands. What a difference. The folks at Temple Fork are quite knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with.

Temple Fork fly rods are endorsed by such names as Gary and Wanda Taylor, Ed Jaworowski, and, of course, Lefty Kreh. I have field tested these rods under some rather adverse conditions. A fly rod on a boat can sometimes take a beating no matter how careful we are. Superior matte black, cobalt blue, or green-granite finishes highlight and protect these signatory rod blanks. All hardware within the Series for which the rod was designed is top-notch--fore to aft--with large, comfortable fighting butts on the heavier weight rods. These TFO rods are simply outstanding, backed by a no-fault warranty for the life of the original registered owner. Return a damaged rod with $25.00 to cover shipping and handling, and you're back in business on the water.

Keeping things simple for sampling the suds in our area, you certainly don't need a 12 to 17-weight outfit. Tearing the above down to basics, I'll suggest that model 1090 10-weight two piece, nine foot IM6 graphite rod with uplocking reel seat and fighting butt. Under a hundred bucks! How can you go wrong? You can't. You won't. It will cover most of your saltwater situations. It is the perfect place to start.

Let's move on to a suitable matching reel.



TRION SERIES PFLUEGER

FLY REELS

MODELS 1990 & 1912 LARGE ARBOR DESIGNS



In the same January 2005 article mentioned above, I married that TFO 10-weight rod to a Pflueger Trion, model 1990, machined aluminum large arbor spool. Again, for a basis of comparison, I have well over a dozen fly reels ranging from expensive to inexpensive: Abel, Albright, Crystal River, Orvis, Pflueger, Scientific Anglers, and Shakespeare. At a price tag of slightly more than two bills for the above mentioned rod ($99.95) and the model 1990 reel (approximately $110.00), it is an incredible setup in terms of both quality and value. Of course, if you want to lay out well over six bills for an Abel Super Series 8, or some other fine reel such as Billy Pate, Lamson, and Tibor, hiding the true cost from the other half of the household, well, what can I say? I might be fishing your body from the bay one day.

Like my Abel Super 8 fly reel, the Pflueger Trion Series is machined from bar stock aluminum; anodized and highly polished. The Trion Series has oversized ball bearings and a center-disc drag system for good control. Drag, in essence, is what you're paying for. Whereas Abel's drag system boasts 'Stop-A-Sub' reliability, my Pflueger Trion model 1990 can and has brought big brutes to a halt.

I was so impressed with my model 1990--spool diameter of 3-3/4 inches--it was not long before I purchased Trion's model 1912--spool diameter 4-1/8 inches, which according to the specifications chart can hold 250 yards of 30-pound test backing, up to a number 12-weight, double taper floating line; model 1990, 100 yards of 20-pound test backing, up to a 10-weight forward line.

Once again, keeping in accordance with the KISS principle, I firmly believe that these two Pflueger Trion Series models can tackle just about anything in our waters. The model 1912 will run you approximately $140.00. Extra spools for the 1990 and 1912 are about $55.00 and $70.00 respectively. Short of heading down to the Keys for big tarpon or billfish, or further south, say Belize to Costa Rica for giant tarpon, billfish and other species that would accept a fly, I believe the drag system on these two models will not leave you in the lurch. If you're truly out hunting for trophy game fish, that's an entirely different story. You will want, and you'll pay dearly for a stalwart reel with a darling of a drag. Otherwise, you're sure to be a sorry sort. But for our waters, generally speaking, playing big bass, monster blues, tuna and such with the Trion Series large arbor reels should prove more than satisfactory.

Keeping things very simple, lock a model 1990 Trion Series Pflueger fly reel onto your Temple Fork model 1090 10-weight fly rod, and get ready for some fun, whether it be from the shoreline, the Sound, or our bays.



TEENY WEIGHT-FORWARD SINKING LINES



I wish I could tell you, precisely, what fly line for a particular rod would best suit your individual needs. The fact is I can't. Not without first knowing the answer to at least half a dozen questions. And only then would I be able to give you ballpark figures. The right church, wrong pew type of scenario would probably prevail. The simple reason being is that it's all too complicated in that there are several variables to consider, which tend to compound matters and therefore cloud reasoning.

Of course, you have certain guidelines. Your rod will indicate what weight line to use. The problem being in that not all rods and lines are created equal. Then again, there are rules of thumb. "Go up two line weights; especially with that shooting head," you'll hear folks suggest. "That Redington rod can handle it." Huh! Does that well-meaning person assume that you're casting a looped component five-foot slow-sink mini-tip, a twelve-foot intermediate section, or perhaps a twenty to thirty-foot integrated speed-cast shooting taper? Are the terms shooting heads, sinking shooting-heads, and traditional shooting or speed-cast tapers used interchangeably? Should they be? Do the grain weights of lines accurately correspond to their sink rates in inches per second? Is the timing and casting technique employed with lengthy sinking lines the same as with conventional weight-forward floating lines? Should I even bother with level or double-taper fly lines in salt water applications? The answers to those six questions are: probably not; quite often; no; no; no; and, absolutely not.

Keep in mind a single truth and you'll begin to understand the complexity of the above. There is no industry standard in matching the grain weight of fly lines to unilaterally correspond with its sink rate. Each manufacturer applies its own rating system; at best, placing a particular line within a category to cover a range of rod weights. For example, a Teeny TS-Series 450 sinking line has a sink rate of 8 ips (inches per second). That translates into the sinking portion of the line; in other words, the first 30 feet, weighing 450 grains, covering a range of rod weights from 9 through 12. Realize too, that it's the density (compactness) of that sinking section that dictates sink rate--not overall weight.

What happened to that promised KISS principle? you're probably asking yourself. How about us somehow magically muddling through this myriad mess of confounding information, bringing all this murky business of lengths and weights of line out into the light. Is it possible? It is, indeed, and we're going to deal with it immediately. First, if you're new at this game, forget all about the vast types of fly lines out there from which to choose. It's simply mind boggling. Focus on matching a weight-forward fly line to what the rod manufacturer states. Just focus. Do not buy anything yet. Next, determine where in the water column you want to be. A few feet down? Fine. Pick yourself up a weight-forward-10-floating line, abbreviated as WF-10-F, to match your 10-weight rod. Wish to fish several feet further down in the water column? Great. Move up the scale to an intermediate sink rate, a fast sink rate, or an extra fast sink rate determined by inches per second. Select a good name brand such as Airflo, Cortland, Orvis, Scientific Anglers or Teeny.

Want to add distance as well as get down into the water column where the fish generally are? Fantastic. Assuming you've had some fly casting experience and realize that shooting tapers (sinking lines) are executed differently than conventional weight-forward floating lines, let us move up the scale with an intermediate Teeny Series T-400 24-foot sinking/58-foot floating section with a sink rate of 8 inches per second for that same 10-weight rod. You are now covered quite nicely for bass, blues, weakfish, false albacore, et cetera. Why the Teeny T-400? Three answers, basically. One, because your 10-weight is right in the middle of the recommended rating for rod weights of 8 through 12. Two, because I have worked with the T-300; that is, one down from the T-400--still within the recommended 7 through 10 rod weights; a great line for a <I>lighter</I><P> 8 or 9-weight rod. Three, because I worked with the T-500; that is, one up from the T-400--still within the recommended 9 through 14 rod weights; a great line for a heavier 11 or 12-weight rod. Get the picture? That is why. Unfortunately, experimentation between rod and line weight is the only way to personify precision. A visit to your professional fly-fishing store, such as Parkwood Outfitters (631-563-1323), as mentioned earlier, will save you time, money and frustration. Joe will patiently steer you to the right church, right pew. Joining a club, too, where you can experiment with each others' equipment, is a good place to start. Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island (www.easternflyrodders.com) is an excellent group of highly knowledgeable folks.

But why Teeny fly lines over another brand when it comes to sinking lines? Answer. Simply [and I use this adverb in honor of the KISS principle] because Jim Teeny, president of Teeny Incorporated, is the innovator of integrating the floating section to the sinking portion of the line. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine its sweet spot. The perfect balance point. There is no guesswork in determining when to shoot the line. When the second color extends approximately one foot past the front guide, it's the magic moment. And when it comes to cutting the wind, which is the bane of many a saltwater fly fisherman, shooting this type of line through a blow is simply a breeze. Pun and fun intended, but it is true. The line retails for $55.00.

A book on saltwater fly-fishing that I highly recommend is aptly titled Fly Fishing in Salt Water by Lefty Kreh. You want the third edition, published by The Lyons Press for $19.95. It is an invaluable source for the new recruit as well as the veteran. Also, it is a great reference book.

So there you have it. For openers, spool the proper amount of backing onto your Trion Series Pflueger model 1990 fly reel, attach a WF-10-F saltwater fly line; lock it onto your Temple Fork model 1090 10-weight rod, and you're business. Good to go. Want to upgrade by gaining greater casting distance and getting down into the water column? Change your spool loaded with Teeny's T-400. Want a beefier reel? Try a Trion Series model 1912 on for size You're set for some serious fishing. With all the moola you've saved, you can take the little woman out to dinner and tell her some tall tale to rationalize your new toys.

But not everything revolves around fly-fishing. Fishing for sure: bait and spin casting, too. So let's move on to a deadly lure for fluke.

STEVE SEKORA'S

GLOW SQUID LURE

LETHAL ... in a Single Word



The secret to our (Donna and I) fluke fishing success over the last two seasons was achieved with Steve Sekora's deadly Glow Squid rig, found in most well-stocked tackle shops. It is positively devastating. Somehow, Donna usually manages to get the first, largest, and most fish. Very frustrating.

The two of us have experimented with various setups in order to satisfy ourselves that it wasn't just one particular baitfish or spinner rig and not the Glow Squid itself that was working its magic charm. A fresh piece of squid and a live killie (called mummichog) is a killer. Giving credit where credit is due, an acquaintance of ours, Captain Carl Shnitter, who runs a charter, Finally, out of Windswept Marina in East Moriches, taught Donna and I a few tricks of the trade. Carl prefers the more colorful male killies. Spearing or sand eels are also good baits to use in combination with squid. Fresh bait if you can get it; fresh frozen if not. If you can get your hands on some fresh killies, how can you keep them alive for a day's outing if your boat is not equipped with a live-bait well?

What we carry aboard some charters as well as our own craft, besides a boatload of confidence and a few packages of Sekora's Glow Squid lures, is a mini bait station. Our boat doesn't have a live well as space is at a premium. However, we carry an item that absolutely fits the bill.

Let's check it out.



FRABILL MIN-O2-

LIFE BAIT STATION COOLER

MODEL 1404 WITH

PORTABLE AERATOR

Don't Leave Home Without It



This has got to be one of the handiest little items for keeping bait alive and kicking, especially with limited space aboard a small vessel. Compact and easily accessible, this eight quart, 15 inch x 7.5 inch x 8 inch portable bait station (with aerator attached) is simply [we're still working that KISS principle right to the end, folks] the ticket to success. Its outstanding features include a hard shell, double wall, molded-in poly foam insulation that keep both H20 and live bait at a constant temperature. Its tight lip around the lid reduces spills. The unit boasts a lift-out net liner, which allows you to quickly secure a baitfish without taking a bath. You know the time wasted in trying to secure that one particular fat killifish you're after. Lift and promptly pick the winner and be done with it. No need to hunt for that minnow net that you probably misplaced to begin with.

And this you can't help but like a lot; the portable aerator includes a built-in night-light for when the moon disappears behind the clouds and your flashlight is either misplaced or on the fritz. Two Duracell D-cell alkaline batteries (not included like your kids' toys) power a high-volume diaphragm-drive air pump to ensure an oxygenated environment for approximately eighty (80) hours. Now there's a dizzying thought. I'm sure that would be without the light on. Frabill claims that their model 1404 Bait Station cooler "effectively sustains two to three times the volume of bait kept in standard minnow buckets." What I can attest to is the fact that Donna and I have attended very few funerals with a good supply of bait in Frabill's cooler. Quite important is its non-kink air hose feature. Bend or twist an ordinary line back upon itself, and kiss that bait good-bye.

As I am admittedly a fusspot, I made a slight modification to the unit. No big deal really. Considering that the aerator is hung from the cooler via a clip that could easily separate from the unit, I merely ran a cable tie through a notch provided at the top of the aerator to the station's exterior bracket. This left a one-inch gap between the aerator and the cooler. I simply placed a 3.5 inch x 2 inch x 1 inch sponge to fill the space so that the aerator doesn't bounce around, securing the sponge to the cooler with Velcro. Voilą! No, that's not French for being anal retentive. Just because the sponge had to be light yellow to match the cooler lid doesn't make me an ol' fuddy-duddy. Does it?
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