Chad Shmukler's blog

We're giving away one of Airflo's relatively new Rage Compact floating skagit head lines. This new type of compact skagit head was designed by Tim Rajeff of Rajeff Sports and Tom Larimer to fill a void in the world of compact skagit heads. As Tom puts it, "what [he] really wanted was a Spey line built for surface and near-surface presentations that bucked like a Skagit but still had the finesse of a Scandi."

As I'm certainly no expert in the world of compact skagit heads, I can't list all of the ways this versatile new floating head can be utilized. However, the Rage Compact is a versatile line to say the least, with applications in both floating line and light sinking leader spey presentations and switch rod presentations. We're giving away the Rage Compact in 480 grains. It is a 30ft head. This should be good for switch and spey rods in sizes 6-8, though personal preferences will allow you to expand on these suggested sizes if you know what you're doing.

Having owned and loved Albright's A5 in a 5 weight for the last several years, I've been keeping an eye on Albright's new products. Working with Lou Tabory over the last few years, well known fresh and saltwater fly angler and author of many books on the subjects, Albright has continued to develop well-received fly rods, reels and other gear at prices that make most people smile. That said, can someone please explain to me why it seems like Albright Tackle is constantly having a 70% off sale? If your products are perpetually on sale or in close-out, doesn't that mean they're really not? Wait. What?

Given that Albright is an online-only outfit and thus their products aren't sold in stores, what's the point of setting high-end MSRPs at which their products are never actually sold? For instance, Albright's very well regarded XXT fly rod, is currently on super duper double beatloaf mega sale for $209 (off its MSRP of $679). Quite the bargain, right? Well, sure. But, how much of one? Chances are, and can't guarantee this, not a single XXT was ever sold for anything approaching $679, because everything on the site is always on sale.

Though I admit it with a fair amount of hesitation, I've been a skeptic on "The River Why" since I first heard about it a couple years ago. Despite the theatrical success of "The Movie" (A River Runs Through It), the boon it was for the sport of fly fishing and the lack of a fictional, feature-length film dedicated to our sport in the years since -- I wasn't sure that what 'The River Why' appeared to be was what I would have wanted for the sport. I'm still not, and that's because I still haven't seen it. Yet the film has, however, been well received by many in the fly fishing community, and the folks behind the film have been doing a lot of apparent good by screening the film and donating the proceeds to conservation organizations.

While searching for more information today, I stumbled on a quote in 1859 Magazine by the author of the book that 'The River Why' is both based on and derives its name from. The book's author, David James Duncan, when asked what he thought about the film had the following to say. "Sigh. I engaged in a three-year legal battle against the producers of the film over their handling of my film rights. That battle was settled ... My name is off the film, Sierra Club’s name is off the film, and the rights have returned to me. I tried to remove my title from their film, too, but the federal magistrate in San Francisco let them keep it ... The current filmmakers held my rights for 25 years, and repeatedly tried to sell off the “property” they claimed to be “developing,” yet claim their efforts are “a labor of love.” Could be, but please spare me any such love. They wrote a crappy screenplay, filmed in a rush to outrace my lawsuits, used a non-fly fisher to play a "Mozart" of a fly fisher, used a rubber salmon to play a wild chinook, and so on."

The internet is polluted with blogs dedicated to this and that. Every niche has a litany of bloggers producing content to feed their respective masses. The online world of fly fishing is unique in the level of quality that characterizes the field. You'd be hard pressed to find such a high quality to quantity ratio on any other subject matter. At least we think so. Probably something to do with the whole obsessive compulsive nature of the crowd.

Periodically we'll make mention of articles on other sites that shouldn't be missed. Here are a few.

After the long overdue recent relaunch of their main web site, Sage is introducing a new blog and features section called "The Current". The site will be a source for gear-heads to get news on what Sage is currently up to from a gear perspective, but will also offer viewers quality content in the form of features on destinations as well as Sage-sponsored films.

The destinations are exotic, designed to make most fisherman salivate. While some are what you'd expect, such as Patagonia, others aren't. There is a current article on the Monami River in the Japan Alps as well as trip features from South Africa, Australia and the Indian Himalayas planned for this year. The photographs presented with each feature offer an often stunning view of these destinations, and the articles themselves offer insight into fishing and life in truly exotic locations that Sage calls some of the "world's best."

While digging up some information for a recent post on how I can't stop watching Felt Soul Media's Eastern Rises, I came across a recent video about Scott Fly Rods. Felt Soul produced this video, what they're calling a "marketing documentary", for Scott fly rods to give outsiders a glimpse into the company's workings and ideals. Though I'd call "marketing documentary" a euphemism for "really good commercial", the video is -- unsurprisingly -- very well done, offers a glimpse inside a great American rod making operation and is a pleasure to watch. Complete with a couple token Frank Smethurst appearances.

Eastern Rises is old news. It wasn't Felt Soul Media's first film. I can't say if it was their best (I haven't seen them all). In the months that followed its release at last year's Telluride Mountain Film Festival, in May, it was all the rage. But it was released over a year ago, so why talk about it now?

For one thing, that rage was well deserved. Eastern Rises is a trip-diary of sorts, detailing the excursion of a group of fly fisherman as they travel across Russia to chase trout on the Kamchatka peninsula. Not only does the film offer up an amazing view of what are inarguably the world's best trout fishing rivers, it is simply a great film. The cinematography is excellent, the characters are interesting and often quite funny, and Ben Knight's witty narration never gets old. Showing someone who doesn't understand fanatical fly fishing Eastern Rises is so much more effective than stumbling while trying to find the words to describe our shared obsession.

Eastern Rises Movie

Even strong proponents of public access to fishing waters will protect their hidden gems or find justifications for the occasional visits to waters not available to the less privileged. All private water isn't created equally (to say the very least), and some pieces of guarded water are truly special. In some cases, private water offers those of who don't have the budgets to travel to Alaska or Kamchatka the next closest thing to unspoiled wilderness.

Regardless of how often I wince when previously public waterways go private, due to weak or unclear laws protecting public access to water, I never miss a chance to fish my favorite private trout stream -- a remarkable little spring creek in central Pennsylvania, kept in family hands for generations and fished by less than 30 people per year. No matter how quickly I'll jump at a chance to shit on money-minded investors that snatch up land surrounding public fisheries in order to privatize historic streams with healthy wild trout populations, fill them with pellet fed hogs, and serve wine stream-side all in the name of "conservation" and $30k per year membership dues (Donny Beaver), I don't share the location of or encourage public access to my favorite bass pond, also family controlled and family protected for generations.

big bass love frog patterns smacked on the water

After not making it out to Oregon at all last year, I was able to find a couple days to get back on the Deschutes this year. Despite wishful thinking, steelhead are not abundant in the river yet. As a result, I chose to not even target steelhead on my first day on the Deschutes, and decided to fish the Maupin area for famous Deschutes redside trout.

a view of the old water tower on the Deschutes


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