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Michael Gracie

Supplemental wading traction

The kicks arrived and the contemplation began. How to make them just a bit stickier, but without raising the primary traction clear off the pavement. On flat rocks they’d perform like ice skates otherwise. Then it dawned that there’s a hardware store right around the corner.

cheap cleats

Ratchet not included

The fact is, softer is actually better. It bites, or rather, gets bitten. And regardless of how tough the Rockwell Brothers say it is, it WILL require replacement after a few outings. Ninety-eight cents a foot sealed the deal.

MG signing off (because marketing effectiveness and the gullibility of the target are perfectly correlated)

Works even better with a wading boot

If your guiding clients are game for a fancy lunch and you don’t have a corkscrew handy …

No excuse now when the menu includes cheese and pâté. Nevertheless, thank goodness beer cans and whiskey bottles are so much easier to open.

MG signing off (to learn something new every day)

Sold on Simms Vibram

I’m not going to endorse the “studies” being touted which suggest felt soles are evil (and frankly, I think those engaged in the outcry should be ashamed because of the weak show they’ve put on). I bought Vibram-soled boots because 1) I needed some new boots, 2) because Simms Riversheds, which I believe are the best value in wading boots, are only available in Vibram, and 3) because I was tired of felt, which is sticky like roof tar while in the water, but downright dangerous while walking on trails or standing on grassy banks.

Further, I don’t need any long term testing, like swapping boots in and out on different feet, to come to a conclusion as to what works. Vibram soles, when combined with studs – in this case the Simms “Star” cleats – provided as firm a footing as felt while wading. And the same configuration blew the laces off felt-soled boots when out of the water. Note: I was using the same model boot, just with felt, immediately prior to the present pair.

MG signing off (because that’s all I have to say about soles)

FTC Disclosure: These boots were purchased for MSRP less a small preferred customer discount, and no compensation whatsoever was provided for the declaration made above.

Tallying the score for my fly-fishing year (2009)

I’d planned on fishing Christmas day, but with high temps expected to climb no higher than the teens I’m likely to bag it. Hence, my fly-fishing year is over, and this year-in-review comes a few days early.

The learning curve

I spent 30 minutes talking one-on-one with Lefty Kreh, in the second week of January. I should have quit while I was ahead. (+30)

Creating infamy

The Wall Street Journal showed up in Denver after I guaranteed them some carp on the fly footage, and Tom Teasdale got front page billing in the print edition, nationally. I know self-made entrepreneurs with $250 million net worths that never made the front page of the WSJ. So I take all the credit for this one. (+250)

Time spent fishing is better than time spent working

I had 22 days on the Blue River, 21 days on suburban lakes, 13 days on the urban South Platte, 10 days on the Dream Stream, 4 days on the Williams Fork, 3 days on the North Platte, 3 days on the salt, 1 day in Cheesman Canyon, 1 day on the Colorado, and a few minutes on Gore Creek and Ten Mile Creek. (+78.5) ALMOST FORGOT: 2 days on the Eagle, and a day on “Moose Creek” – so +81.5

Worth a mention

I caught this fish and this fish using 5X tippets and tiny flies (+2). I used a San Juan Worm one day this year – this fish was the result (+1). I almost died from dehydration in the Carp Slam, but thank my lucky stars Barry Reynolds was my partner (+10).

Some gear runs through it

I acquired five fly rods and four fly reels this year (+9). I dumped one 2009 rod for another (+0), gave one rod up as a going away present (+1), and passed on three reels to folks that really needed them (-3). At least two rods will get ejected in the spring, and I’m on the hunt for another reel (-1).

I retired some waders, and waited patiently for some others (+0). I booted three pairs of wading boots, and wound up with two pairs in their place (-1). I gave away two wading belts (+2), and I found my socks (+20).

I bought seven fly lines, was given one fly line, sold two fly lines, and gave seven fly lines away (+13). I ruined one fly line, and one fly line just plain fell apart on me (-2). Two fly lines are still in the boxes (-2). I gave away a tippet dispenser, six spools of tippet, 250 yards of gelspun backing, and spooled/rigged four reels for newbies (+261).

Fly boxes are for civilians

I purchased 780 flies, tied ten flies, bent four hooks, popped 28 leaders with two-fly rigs, and snagged 2,462 flies on tree branches. (-1,732)

Liar liar pants on fire

I caught 225 brown, rainbow and/or cutthroat trout over ten pounds, 150 carp over forty pounds, 90 largemouth bass over eleven pounds, and one state record brook trout (at twelve pounds) that I didn’t get a picture of since I was by myself in a desolate location with no food, water, or camera. (225 X 10) + (150 X 40) + (90 X 12) + (1 X 12 X 11,500 foot elevation) = +147,330

High note

I acquired a king’s hoard of new friends, but unlike royalty throughout history I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And I spent some precious time fishing with some dear old friends too. ((7382 + 6) X 1014 = 7.382e+17) (Note: score arrived at by adding total friends, new and old, to the number of beers consumed in their company, individually, post-outing, then multiplying by the ACTUAL VALUE of time spent fishing and/or drinking with them)

Final tally

I want to say I lost count, but the reality is I’m an accountant, which means I don’t know how to count it was just a darn good year.

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, What-Have-You, and a Happy New Year to all.

MG signing off (until 2010)

Fly fishing hacks: self-studded rubber-soled wading boots

Self-studded wondersAs much as I like those Weinbrenner wading boots I picked up a few months back, the fact remains they have rubber soles. Rubber soles just don’t grip like felt, but with the latter quickly going the way of the buggy whip I thought I’d make a few tweaks to mine. The improvement? Studs.

Materials/tools I used

– Weinbrenner Propex boots with Goodyear Aquastealth soles
– #6 x 3/8″ zinc sheet metal screws
– A drill with a 5/64″ bit
– A socket wrench

What I did

I first marked a pattern across the boot bottom. I chose eleven spots on each boot – fairly sparse, guaranteeing I’ll still have some rubber on the road. Next, I drilled holes at each mark just a 1/4″ into the boot (slightly less than the screw length) – I wrapped the bit with masking tape that 1/4″ above the tip to ensure I didn’t drill through the sole. I started each screw by hand, and then finished each off with the socket.

Easy.

MG signing off (to test them on the river full of slimy rocks)

Weinbrenner Rubber and RailRiders Extreme: The perfect wet-wading combination

gear bagWe’ve seen a lot of unexpected weather in Colorado as of late. Rivers have stayed marginally above normal as a result, and I’ve kept my waders on. Some carping conditions have been decent for wet wading, and I’ve taken advantage of the fact, but it’s been more of a chest wader game outside of the urban environs.

During the last few weeks that all changed. With midday thunderstorms tapering off and warm, sunny conditions replacing them, I took the opportunity to test my first set of rubber-soled boots and finally attempt to tear a pair of outdoor pants to shreds. The boots are a lesser known brand (to fly fishing folks who don’t have gray hair, or still have hair), Weinbrenner, which came highly recommended by my friends at Discount Fishing Tackle, and the pants are the RailRiders Extremes that were sent to me a few months back. They turned out to be the perfect wet wading combination, at least for me. Here’s why…

(more…)

Winding up the month of July

The next couple of weeks are going to be fun…

  • Alex Landeen hits Colorado today. We’re going to be fishing like madmen, and probably drinking with similar fury. Scouts were sent out to check conditions, and the report back was good-to-go. Some of the Primal Fly gang are going to be in on the mayhem.
  • Going to hack together an internal RSS parser, as subcontractor to a real engineer. It’ll be a novel use of RSS, and I can’t believe that knowing a little PHP actually led to doing some coding on the side for real compensation. I find coding fun, but don’t think I’d want to do it full time – the entire internet would crash and burn if I did.
  • I’m hitting the carp water the first of next week with someone who needs convincing that they should compete in the Carp Slam. I consider it a done deal already.
  • Over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing the buy-sell agreement for small business client. They’re concerned that either the agreement is weak or that the amount of insurance they have doesn’t fit the bill for the business size. Valuation may be in order, and since the entity itself is light on hard assets, I’ll probably be playing the discounted cash flow game.
  • By month’s end I hope to have the operating plan done for a direct sales plus lead generation concept. It’s in the green energy space, and the crew we’re assembling is A #1 top notch. Creating a sales and marketing organization from the ground up – entity, people, technology – means my hands get very dirty. I like that a lot.
  • And it may leak into August, but I’ll be tearing to pieces reviewing two pieces of fly fishing gear, an overlooked pair of rubber soled wading boots and a waist pack by someone with big name recognition. This means I’ll have to do some fishing, and while it is beginning to feel like work that in and of itself may be the best excuse ever.
  • Adieu.

    Korkers Streamborn Wading Boots – One Year Later

    [singlepic id=153 w=100 h=75 float=left]I bought a pair of Korkers Streamborns in early April 2008, and have not used another boot since. While I’m often accused of being a cyberfisherman [definition: getting very little time on the water but finding a way to blog about fly fishing trips an awful lot, and making good use of photoshop and/or other people’s photos in the process], I’m still going to show you what a pair of these boots look after a year in the closet of receiving enormous abuse.

    Uh…they’re mint, or as close to it as one could expect with a fraud wearing them:

    korkers1 korkers2 korkers3 korkers4

    I’d happily produce additional closeups of these babies to further the idea of how well they’ve held up, but it would be a futile effort – my photography skills blow, and you’d probably accuse me of photoshopping them like I do all my fishing pics anyway. Still, I must say I often hear comments about boots lasting a whole year, and boot reps cheering victory. Bleh. Tell me they went two or three or four years (the way these boots are headed) and I’ll be impressed.

    The uppers are still perfectly intact, and there’s not a single sign of cracking, delamination, or separation of fiber from rubber. I’ve kicked aside enough rocks (and skidded down enough trails) to have broken toes, and yet the stitching all around still looks like new. They’ve been repeatedly subjected to some joker’s smelly feet (a stench surely capable of permeating neoprene booties) and clown show ready wading skills. Further, it’s been scalding hot water baths followed by utility room rack drying after each fishery encounter. As for the switch-able sole system…well it still works like a charm (and even better than new since the owner actually knows what he’s doing now).

    My only complaint – they eat laces for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m on my third set, and they’ll see a fourth after tomorrow’s jaunt to another closet a desolate canyon fishery that is full of porky pigs, trapped like rats in deep clear pools because the water management officials love and cherish my very existence on our fair planet. Korkers should send me a lifetime supply of new laces, as a show of similar adoration.

    Combined with my lucky socks (pair back together…thank God!), I’ve still got a good shot at snagging the golf club bag with these boots…when moving them out to the front window for all to see.

    MG signing off (to test the Korkers on a construction site)

    To you I bequeath my (still lively) Simms Freestones

    Old Simms Freestones

    In retrospect they probably had plenty of life left in them on my own feet. But last season I picked up a new pair of wading boots, and had recently begun feeling like a selfish bastard for having three pairs in the closet. So I gave this fine fly fishing footwear to a pal of mine who really needed some studded soles.

    I would have tossed them on Craigslist at the $0 price, but they bring back old memories so I wanted to keep them in the family. They’ve done at least a dozen trips to the San Juan, more than twice that in Wyoming and Idaho, and literally hundreds of excursions across Colorado and Utah. They spent so much time getting wet, and then laying in riverside sun or near campfire warmth, that the uppers cracked behind the big toe. The thought of bitching at Simms never crossed my mind – these boots have to be a decade old, so I more than got my money’s worth out of them. No, at first I applied duct tape (the universal patch), and finally laid globs of Aqua-Seal across the wounds. No problems since.

    They’re moving on to greener pastures, even if the guy who’s feet will be in them needs a little help with his roll cast.

    Then again, don’t we all?

    Gratuitous fly fishing post for the evening (UPDATED)

    gear bagYou can be gratuitous too

    I’ve had a pretty darn good September so far. For some odd reason more than a few folks have been abnormally kind to me – I hardly deserve it, but I’ve had a chance to do some much needed gear upgradingengage in more frivolous purchases … contribute back what I can to the local fly fishing economy as a result. And in not-so-grand fashion, I’m now getting rid of a few things.

    UPDATE: My excess gear is gone, so I’ve removed the portions of this post dealing with it (particularly since the pictures were such fine examples of my piss poor photography skills). Onward…

    Second to last but still not least, Tom Chandler is cleaning out his closet too. From the sounds of it, he has enough gear to outfit every commenter on his blog for a solid decade, but the George Maurer Bamboo he’s seeking a good home for deserves attention that the average brownliner simply can’t provide.

    And lastly (there is no “least” in fly fishing – the joke’s on you), Jason Puris of The Fin fishing social network nabbed a cap in my little Drift trivia contest. But instead of taking the goods and heading for the hills, Jason decided to return the favor – I received a fine t-shirt in the mail today that reminds all fly fishing folk to…

    kissyourfish

    Thanks Jason!

    Email me (or comment) with any questions – my contact information is here.

    Adieu.